Pierce County shellfish ban grows. Entire Washington coast closed due to biotoxins

Dangerous levels of paralytic shellfish poison have led the state to shut down another area in Pierce County for recreational shellfish harvests.

There now are three areas in the county closed, the state Department of Health announced Saturday.

Clams, mussels and oysters are not safe to harvest from:

Hale Passage, including Wollochet Bay.

The eastern shoreline of the Key Peninsula, from just south of Minter Bay to South Head (Delano Point).

South Narrows from Gordon Point and Yoman Point on Anderson Island, north to the King and Kitsap county lines, including Commencement Bay, Colvos Passage and the Tacoma Narrows.

In addition, the Washington coast from the Oregon border to Cape Flattery is closed, along with the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has not canceled the upcoming razor clam harvest.

Paralytic shellfish poison is produced by microscopic algae and affects the nervous system and paralyzes muscles. High levels of the biotoxin can cause death within 30 minutes.

Symptoms include tingling in extremities, loss of control of arms or legs, difficulty breathing, nausea and a sense of floating.

Anyone who believes they have PSP should call their doctor and the county Health Department. Anyone with severe symptoms should go to an emergency room immediately.

Commercially purchased shellfish is still safe to eat.

Before harvesting shellfish, check the Health Department safety map at www.doh.wa.gov/shellfishsafety.htm, or call the shellfish safety hot line at 800-562-5632.

Public beaches where harvesting usually is permitted sometimes are posted with closure signs. But, health officials say, don’t assume a beach is safe just because no signs are present.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor