The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (February 12) investigating a suspected case of paralytic shellfish poisoning affecting a family of four.
The case involves one male and three females aged 6 to 55, who presented with tongue numbness and vomiting from immediately to 10 minutes after consuming sea snail at home yesterday (February 11). Two of them attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Tin Shui Wai Hospital on the same day and no hospitalisation was required. All patients have been in a stable condition all along.
Initial enquiries revealed that the sea snail was purchased from a seafood stall in Tin Shui Market in Tin Shui Wai. Investigations by the CHP and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department are continuing.
"Paralytic shellfish poisoning toxin was a natural toxin sometimes found in bi-valve shellfish. It is heat-stable and cannot be destroyed through cooking," a spokesman for CHP said.
"The symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning are predominantly neurological and the onset is usually within minutes to hours after ingestion of the shellfish. Initial symptoms may include tingling, numbness of the mouth and extremities, headache, dizziness and gastrointestinal discomfort. In the majority of cases, symptoms resolve completely within a few days. In severe cases, difficulty in swallowing and speech, paralysis with respiratory arrest and even death may occur," the spokesman added.
The spokesman reminded members of the public that they should seek medical advice immediately if they develop shellfish poisoning symptoms and save any leftovers for investigation and laboratory testing.
To reduce the risk of shellfish poisoning, the public should:
* Buy shellfish from reliable and licensed seafood shops;
* Remove the viscera, gonads and roe before cooking and discard any cooking liquid before consumption;
* Eat a smaller amount of shellfish in any one meal; and
* When symptoms occur after consuming shellfish, seek medical advice immediately.
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