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Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Causes

Paralytic shellfish poisoning, and all shellfish poisoning syndromes in general, are attributed to bivalve mollusks, including clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops. These shellfish are filter feeders, thus accumulating toxins that are produced by microscopic algae such as diatoms and dinoflaggerlates as well as cyanobacteria. These poisonous toxins are mostly water-soluble and stable in acid and heat. PSP toxins are not inactivated by ordinary cooking methods, and affect those who come in contact with them via ingestion.

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Definition

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (shortened as PSP) pertains to one of 4 known syndromes of shellfish poisoning (along with diarrheal shellfish poisoning, neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, and amnesic shellfish poisoning).

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Diagnosis

Paralytic shellfish poisoning is diagnosed based on clinical presentations with a recent history of shellfish ingestion. Obtaining samples of contaminated tissues and their source for lab analysis is also imperative.

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Symptoms and Signs

Paralytic shellfish poisoning can be potentially fatal, particularly when affecting immunosuppressed individuals and children. Symptoms typically manifest 10-30 minutes after ingestion, and may include: abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, as well as a tingling or burning sensation appearing in various areas, most notably in face, neck, arms, legs, toes, lips, gums, and tongue. Other less common symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning include: shortness of breath; dry mouth; feelings of choking; speech distortions; confusion; and lack of coordination.

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Treatment

Treatment for paralytic shellfish poisoning is based mostly on supportive measures. Ventilatory support may be needed in most cases, along with other forms of artificial respiration. If ingestion of toxins is fairly recent, the patient's gut may be decontaminated through gastric lavage as well as administration of activated charcoal or dilute bicarbonate solution.

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