The California Department of Public Health has issued an annual quarantine of all sport-harvested mussel species along the California coast beginning Tuesday, May 1.
The quarantine is in place to protect the public against poisoning as the toxins found in mussels can lead to severe illness and death.
Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and domoic acid poisoning (DAP) are both linked to microscopic plankton that are concentrated in filter-feeding animals. PSP affects the human central nervous system, producing a tingling around the mouth and fingertips within a few minutes to a few hours after eating toxic shellfish. DAP can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood.
Click here for more information about the quarantine, PSP and DAP on the Mussel Quarantine Frequently Asked Questions website.
This warning does not apply to commercially sold clams, mussels, scallops or oysters. State law only permits state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers to sell these products. Shellfish sold by certified harvesters and dealers are subject to frequent mandatory testing.
The quarantine usually lasts from May 1 through Oct. 31.
To receive updated information about shellfish poisoning and quarantines, call the CDPH toll-free Shellfish Information Line at 800.553.4133. You may also receive additional information from the California Department of Public Health. Click here.
— Susan Klein-Rothschild is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.