Juneau woman dies of PSP

Posted: Friday, June 18, 2010

A Juneau woman suffering from paralytic shellfish poisoning died Thursday afternoon at Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Her name has not been released, but family members were notified and spent the afternoon at the hospital, a hospital spokesman said.

The woman might have gathered cockles, a type of hard shell clam, on Monday from the Point Louisa end of Auke Bay, the state Department of Environmental Conservation reported on Wednesday.

Her family could not immediately be reached for comment.

State officials reported a total of four recent cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning, including three in the Kodiak area from eating butter clams.

PSP is a toxin that can lead to fatal respiratory paralysis.

The state recommends harvesters not eat shellfish from beaches not certified as safe. None of Southeast Alaska's populated beaches are certified as such.

There were two reported cases of PSP in Alaska in the last three years, according to the state.

PSP occurs when filter-feeding shellfish such as clams and mussels ingest algae and store toxins in their edible body tissue.

More information is available at www.dec.state.ak.us/eh/fss/seafood/psphome.htm.

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