Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning: Personal Injury
In the Pacific Northwest, shellfish are considered a local delicacy and they’re served at high-end restaurants throughout the year. Restaurants and seafood stores owe a duty of care to their clients to serve and sell healthy shellfish that won’t make people sick. Unfortunately, the risk of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) is real in Washington State. According to the Washington State Department of Health, people can get PSP from eating shellfish contaminated with a toxin from the phytoplankton Alexandrium catenella. The biotoxin affects the nervous system and paralyzes muscles. If shellfish with high levels of PSP are ingested, they can cause grave illness and even death. Part of what makes shellfish contaminated with PSP so dangerous is that you cannot kill the biotoxin by cooking or freezing them.
If you or a loved one was poisoned by contaminated shellfish served to you at a restaurant or purchased at a grocery store, seek the help of a personal injury lawyer. The personal injury attorney can discuss your legal rights and may be able to help you recover damages for your injuries.
What is Paralytic Shellfish Poison?
PSP is a naturally occurring marine biotoxin that is produced by some species of microscopic algae. Shellfish eat these algae and can retain the toxins in their tissue, which gets passed on to people when they eat the shellfish.
What types of shellfish can be harbor Paralytic Shellfish Poison?
Paralytic shellfish poison may be present it:
- Moon snails
- Sea cucumbers, other gastropods and crab may also be vulnerable to the poison
Does the water look a certain way when shellfish are contaminated?
No. The water may or may not change color or appear dirty when shellfish are contaminated with PSP. Red tide is associated with toxic blooms but it’s not relevant to whether shellfish are contaminated with PSP.
Symptoms of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning?
Symptoms of PSP can start minutes up to an hour or two after a person eats toxic shellfish and include tingling of the lips and tongue. For some, symptoms progress to tingling of fingers and toes and then loss of control of arms and legs, followed by difficulty breathing. Nausea and a sense of floating may be experienced. For those who ate a lot of the poisoned shellfish, their chest and stomach muscles will become paralyzed. When this happens the muscles for breathing stop working and the victim can suffocate. There are people who have died just 30 minutes after eating poisoned shellfish.
Is there a treatment for Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning?
There is no treatment for PSP other than life support systems like mechanical respirators and oxygen to help the person breathe until the toxin passes through the system. Once the toxin has passed through the person’s system, they can have a full recovery.
What should I do if I suspect PSP?
After seeking medical help, call your local public health agency to report the poisoning.
Check this map for beaches in our area closed for marine biotoxins and pollution: https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/biotoxin/biotoxin.html
Seek the help of a personal injury attorney
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced personal injury attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!