Suffolk County Health Commissioner James Tomarken today issued a warning to residents and visitors to the north fork of Suffolk County to avoid harvesting and eating shellfish in James Creek in Mattituck, Town of Southold, until further notice.
This warning follows the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announcement of a temporary ban on the harvesting carnivorous gastropods (whelks, conchs, moon snails) in James Creek due to the detection of a marine biotoxin in shellfish. This action was taken after DEC determined that mussels collected from James Creek tested positive for saxitoxin, a marine biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).
“Though James Creek was already closed for harvesting of shellfish, including oysters, clams, mussels and scallops, from May 1 to November 30 due to bacteriological concerns, this new ban prohibits harvesting of three gastropods: whelks, conchs, and moon snails, which had until present been allowed for harvest,” said Dr. Tomarken. “Our concern is for the health of the public.”
Symptoms of PSP will depend on the amount of toxin ingested, and can progress from tingling of the lips and tongue, to numbness of the face, neck and limbs, loss of muscular control, followed by difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms after eating shellfish, call 911 or seek emergency medical care immediately.
Maps of all affected areas and information about temporary closures are available on DEC's website. Information about marine biotoxins and paralytic shellfish poisoning is also available on DEC website.