Paralytic shellfish poisonings resulting from an algal bloom in Nicaragua
Published Date:Mar 10 2015
Source:BMC Res Notes. 8.
During an October 2005 algal bloom (i.e., a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae) off the coast of Nicaragua, 45 people developed symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and one person died. PSP in humans is caused by ingestion of saxitoxin, which is a neurotoxin often associated with shellfish contaminated by algal blooms.
Three shellfish and two algal samples tested positive for saxitoxins. Ten (9%) of 107 participants developed neurological symptoms during the specified time period and five required hospitalization. While 6 (67%) of 9 possible case-patients and 21 (21%) of 98 controls had eaten fish (p=0.008), all case-patients and 17 (17%) of controls had eaten clams (P<0.0001). The saxitoxin concentration in the urine of a hospitalized case-patient was 21 ng saxitoxin/g creatinine compared to 0.16 ng saxitoxin/g creatinine in the single control patient’s urine.
These findings suggest that a bloom of saxitoxin-producing algae resulted in saxitoxin accumulation in local clams and was responsible for the PSP intoxication.
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