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Thread: Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning - anyone gotten it or know someone who has?

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    Member Anythingalaska's Avatar
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    Default Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning - anyone gotten it or know someone who has?

    It's always on my mind any time I harvest shellfish that can possibly carry PSP. Abalone, Shrimp, and Sea Cucumbers do not get PSP, but as we all know; Clams, Scallops, Mussels, and even Crab guts can carry PSP. I only harvest my shellfish (excluding crab) during this time of year (middle of winter), but even then it is always a possibility. I personally don't know anyone who has gotten sick from it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anythingalaska View Post
    It's always on my mind any time I harvest shellfish that can possibly carry PSP. Abalone, Shrimp, and Sea Cucumbers do not get PSP, but as we all know; Clams, Scallops, Mussels, and even Crab guts can carry PSP. I only harvest my shellfish (excluding crab) during this time of year (middle of winter), but even then it is always a possibility. I personally don't know anyone who has gotten sick from it.
    This was posted a while back. http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...orted-in-Sitka

    I've been thinking a lot about getting into it this summer (clamming) but PSP scare the heck out of me to the point, that it's keeping from taking any steps to actually do it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    This was posted a while back. http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...orted-in-Sitka

    I've been thinking a lot about getting into it this summer (clamming) but PSP scare the heck out of me to the point, that it's keeping from taking any steps to actually do it.
    I actually live in Sitka, and am aware of the outbreak last fall. The Geoduck fishery this year has also had problems with PSP and the Chinese buyers have now refused purchasing Geoducks until they test clean. I don't know anyone personally who has ever gotten PSP, but always cautious about it. It seems like the most common shellfish people get PSP from are clams, followed by the even worse; blue mussels.

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    A friend of mine was a caretaker a little south of you down in BC and got it. He said he hurt so bad that it was the only time in his life that he actually wished he would die.....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    A friend of mine was a caretaker a little south of you down in BC and got it. He said he hurt so bad that it was the only time in his life that he actually wished he would die.....

    Geee. Thanks for those words of encouragement. =)

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    I spoke with someone yesterday who says that Deep Creek and Homer are the "safe" places to go for clams. She couldn't explain why those areas were "safe" other than that she had never heard of anyone getting PSP from shellfish in those areas, and that most PSP incidents are from further south. To me, that's not a good explanation. It seems to me, as I understand it anyway, PSP is due to the fact that the clams are filtering everything through their system, or is it just a natural defense mechanism?

    Does anyone find any credibility in the idea that an area is "safe" from PSP?

    Dos anyone know a sure and certain way to avoid/eliminate PSP? From what I've read at ADF&G, it's not just a matter of cooking to the right temperature for the right amount of time, as is the case with most game.

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    I believe the reason those beaches are considered "safe" is because the state does random periodic PSP testing of the clams there.
    Southeast is so vast and with so many different coves and beaches they just couldn't test them well enough down there. Same thing with PWS.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    Geee. Thanks for those words of encouragement. =)
    Ha!!! Well I didn't want to sugar coat it as that's what he told me. But as far as eating clams here on the Kenai, I've eaten them for years from Clam Gulch and Ninilchik and never even thought twice about it. Of course I've never been sick either.....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    I spoke with someone yesterday who says that Deep Creek and Homer are the "safe" places to go for clams. She couldn't explain why those areas were "safe" other than that she had never heard of anyone getting PSP from shellfish in those areas, and that most PSP incidents are from further south. To me, that's not a good explanation. It seems to me, as I understand it anyway, PSP is due to the fact that the clams are filtering everything through their system, or is it just a natural defense mechanism?

    Does anyone find any credibility in the idea that an area is "safe" from PSP?

    Dos anyone know a sure and certain way to avoid/eliminate PSP? From what I've read at ADF&G, it's not just a matter of cooking to the right temperature for the right amount of time, as is the case with most game.
    You're right, PSP cannot be cooked out of shellfish. Bivalves filter algae that contain PSP; and the PSP stays in the shellfish for X amount of time. It's usually most prevalent in the late spring and summer when temperatures are warmer, but can occur almost any time of year.

    This is a great report on PSP; I highly suggest reading it. Even has a list of all PSP carrying shellfish in Alaska, and the varying toxicity of each species.

    Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning: The Alaska Problem

    http://seafood.oregonstate.edu/.pdf%...%20Problem.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by kasilofchrisn View Post
    I believe the reason those beaches are considered "safe" is because the state does random periodic PSP testing of the clams there.
    Southeast is so vast and with so many different coves and beaches they just couldn't test them well enough down there. Same thing with PWS.
    Thanks for your input. THAT makes soooooo much more sense than the "It's safe cuz I never got sick" theory.

    Speaking of which...


    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    But as far as eating clams here on the Kenai, I've eaten them for years from Clam Gulch and Ninilchik and never even thought twice about it. Of course I've never been sick either.....
    This, to me, is much like saying "I never filter my water from streams because I've never gotten sick."

    (I'm the type that ALWAYS filters his water.) So in that regard, I wish there was a way to "kill" PSP or make sure you don't get it, but there seems to be none. I wonder why I grew up eating clam chowder and steamed crabs and never heard of PSP until last year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anythingalaska View Post
    You're right, PSP cannot be cooked out of shellfish. Bivalves filter algae that contain PSP; and the PSP stays in the shellfish for X amount of time. It's usually most prevalent in the late spring and summer when temperatures are warmer, but can occur almost any time of year.

    This is a great report on PSP; I highly suggest reading it. Even has a list of all PSP carrying shellfish in Alaska, and the varying toxicity of each species.

    Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning: The Alaska Problem

    http://seafood.oregonstate.edu/.pdf%...%20Problem.pdf
    Good report. Tells me what I wanted to know, generally, Cook Inlet razor clams are safe. PSP is a poison, not a disease, so you can't kill it. The key, I guess, is to plan your visits to clam gulch a couple of days after the minus tide starts. If there is a problem it should be reported by then.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post



    This, to me, is much like saying "I never filter my water from streams because I've never gotten sick."
    .
    When I said that I was kinda making fun of myself, meaning, had I in fact gotten sick before from them, then I'd probably think differently.

    I've been known to drink non-filtered water in certain places but make sure I filter it in others. I'm pretty sure with this approach I've probably just been lucky. It is interesting though as when I was young and always out in the woods of the Sierra Nevadas, I never filtered any water and drank from every creek I came across, and there even were beavers around. Never got sick. I would't think of doing that up here. Once many years ago I got turned around moose hunting and ended up running out of water trying to find my way out. Didn't have a filter but I got so parched that I ended up drinking a couple handfulls of swamp water. Didn't get sick.

    As a kid my wife got sick on clams. Hard to say if she got a touch of the poison or is/was just allergic. But to this day I can't get her to eat clams of any sort. Both our kids have never had any problems with clams either.

    And yes, from what I've heard, because Ninilchik and Clam Gulch beaches are so popular, F&G test them quite regularly.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    If I remember correctly I heard last year that there is a company working on a home use PSP test. Something you could carry with you and test a few shellfish from your harvest area. That way a person could be assured the shellfish they harvested are safe.
    I would guess a small piece of a shellfish or two would assure you they were safe.
    I might have to do some research to see if this is available yet.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

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    Quote Originally Posted by kasilofchrisn View Post
    If I remember correctly I heard last year that there is a company working on a home use PSP test. Something you could carry with you and test a few shellfish from your harvest area. That way a person could be assured the shellfish they harvested are safe.
    I would guess a small piece of a shellfish or two would assure you they were safe.
    I might have to do some research to see if this is available yet.

    I would love to hear if you find out anything about a PSP test kit; I would definitely buy one for the peace of mind. Seems like such a useful product, can't believe it's not already available!

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    Here is the article on the home test. Sounds simple enough to use. $20 each but the peace of mind makes it worth it I suppose.
    When in doubt you could easily test your shellfish. I would think with enough people buying them the price will eventually go down.
    http://juneauempire.com/stories/0812...hellfish.shtml
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

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    That article is 13 years old. All of the materials I found on the subject were of similar age. I didn't find anything current. Neither could I find anyplace online that is selling such a kit. That tells me it either didn't get approved by the powers that be, or it flopped commercially. Has anyone found anything on this recent and that has a link to an actual vendor that is actually selling them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anythingalaska View Post
    This is a great report on PSP; I highly suggest reading it. Even has a list of all PSP carrying shellfish in Alaska, and the varying toxicity of each species.

    Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning: The Alaska Problem

    http://seafood.oregonstate.edu/.pdf%...%20Problem.pdf
    Thanks for posting this. It was a lot of information. What I took away from this was stay home and buy commercially harvested (i.e. tested) shellfish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    That article is 13 years old. All of the materials I found on the subject were of similar age. I didn't find anything current. Neither could I find anyplace online that is selling such a kit. That tells me it either didn't get approved by the powers that be, or it flopped commercially. Has anyone found anything on this recent and that has a link to an actual vendor that is actually selling them?
    Correction: http://www.jellett.ca/psp_test.htm has a product, 27.50 candian.

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    That article is 13 years old. All of the materials I found on the subject were of similar age. I didn't find anything current. Neither could I find anyplace online that is selling such a kit. That tells me it either didn't get approved by the powers that be, or it flopped commercially. Has anyone found anything on this recent and that has a link to an actual vendor that is actually selling them?
    Thanks for catching that. I just Googled it and the article came up. I figured it must have been the one I read a year or two ago but apparently not.
    It is a good concept though and if there was one available it sure would be nice.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

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    http://www.apiai.org/services/commun...poisoning-psp/

    I would recommend reviewing the information posted on the website above. This organization has been actively testing for PSP in southwestern Alaska for a number of years. It is good information and their Senior Scientist working the project is well known in the state for his work.


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