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Dangerously high levels of Red Tide found in bivalve shellfish on B.C. coast

A potentially-deadly bacteria outbreak has forced the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to ban shellfish harvesting on the Sunshine Coast.

There’s been an outbreak of a potentially deadly bacteria on the B.C. coast, forcing the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to close bivalve shellfish harvesting along most of the Sunshine Coast.

Dangerously high levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning — or “Red Tide” were found in what the DFO refers to as Area 16.

The co-ordinator of the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program Elysha Gordon said, “This areas [is] by Sechelt Inlet, upward to Agamemnon Channel, Nelson Island and the backside of Texada Island — so a portion of the Sunshine Coast.”

The warning applies to oysters, clams, scallops, mussels and geoduck.

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The threshold for closure is set at 80 parts per million, but concentration in those areas were found to be as high as 1,300 parts per million.

“So extremely high levels,” Gordon said. “Something everyone should be very much aware of and know that this is something that will kill you.”

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Onset symptoms include nausea, dizziness, difficulties breathing, paralysis of the respiratory system, and in worst case, death. If someone does feel ill after consuming shellfish, they should seek medical attention immediately.

The DFO is encouraging everyone to check the website for updates to ensure it’s safe to harvest.