Friday, January 11, 2013

Killer red tide will be here for a while - Avoid shellfish!

The red tide can kill. And it is here to stay (and continue killing) until at least June, according to the Fisheries Department.

Daily Express. Jan 10, 2013


Just few days ago we were taken aback by the death of two victims who consumed shellfish collected from nearby waters. We were shocked not because we come to realise that 'red tide' can kill but by the fact that people continue to consume toxic marine produce. Have they not been informed of the risk?

It is high time the relevant authorities come down in aggressive manner telling people about the real danger of consuming sea produce at this moment. Not that the departments - Fisheries Dept., and Health Dept. - failed to do so. In fact you've read numerous reminders from either of these government agencies in the local and national tabloids. But I think it is just not sufficient.

When I say 'aggresive' I was talking about going down to the grassroots - the sea villages, fisherman communities, the JKKKs. But also not forgetting the consumer side of the food chain. Buntings, leaflets, banners along the main roads for instance, are good means of sending out message. Television adverts and SMS services can be intensified.

Fatality CAN and SHOULD be avoided - via prevention and not by treatment.


All types of shellfish or bivalves including -
  • oysters
  • mussels
  • cockles, and
  • any type of seafood with shells
Don't eat or sell them.


The red tide toxin in shellfish is analysed using the mouse bioassay method and results are given as Mouse Unit (MU). Threshold level considered safe for humans is 400 MU. Anything above this is dangerous.

Some recorded shellfish samples taken so far:
Putatan              - 6,900 MU
Papar District    - 4,010 MU
Tuaran              - 3,300 MU

Past recorded samples of bivalve in Sabah were as high as 11,000 MU.

Take note that,
  • Only the Fisheries Department can detect the presence of toxin in shellfish in its specialised lab. One can't tell through sight, smell or taste.
  • The toxin cannot be washed away or got rid off through washing or through any type of food preparation or cooking.


Among others, but not limited to:
  • tingling of the lips and tongue, which may begin within minutes of eating poisonous shellfish or may take an hour or two to develop.
  • sensation of "pricking of pins and needles" of the skin
  • loss of control of arms and legs
  • difficulty in breathing
If you experience any of the above symptoms, get medical treatment immediately, as, delay in seeking treatment may result in death according to State Health Director, Dr. Christina Rundi.


All is not lost for seafood lovers. Dr. Rundi described the following as safe for consumption:
  1. All types of prawns and crabs including shovel-nosed lobsters,
  2. Mantis shrimps,
  3. All types of coral fishes, and
  4. Fishes which are predatory such as sharks and sting rays, barracuda, tenggiri, jacks and deep sea fishes.
Just remember to throw away their guts and gills and washed them properly.

Hope that helps in a small way.

Facts source: D.Express


tehr said...

kes ni nampak dah berlanjutan ni
molek sangat kalau dapat dihapuskan puncanya
kerajaan perlu bertindak ni

de engineur said...

Memang sdh lama dan ianya kejadian berulang, esp di perairan Sabah. And people continue to consume and get poisoned everytime.