By 3 News online staff
More people have fallen victim to poisoned shellfish collected from the Bay of Plenty coastline.
Seven more cases have been reported in recent days, taking the total so far to 27 – the region’s worst-ever outbreak.
Public health authorities have also warned that Auckland's coastlines could host the same paralytic toxin, and that the risk of shellfish poisoning from there is high.
The coastline from Tairua on the Coromandel Peninsula to Whakatane has been placed off-limits for shellfish gathering.
The Bay of Plenty District Health Board says the warning applies to all bi-valve shellfish including mussels, pipi, tuatua, cockles, oysters, scallops as well as cat’s-eyes and kina (sea urchin).
Shellfish in the affected area should not be taken or consumed. The DHB warns that those containing toxic levels of poison won’t look or taste any different to normal. Cooking or freezing does not remove the toxin.
Paua, crayfish and crabs can still be taken but the gut should be removed before cooking.
Paralytic shellfish poisoning occurs when shellfish feed on algae and toxins concentrate in their flesh.
The higher the algae level in the ocean, the higher the risk of poisoning.
Symptoms of poisoning range from tingling around the mouth to difficulty walking, and can occur between one and 12 hours of eating the toxic shellfish.
The Bay of Plenty DHB says the illness is very serious and can even be fatal.
It recommends that those in affected areas wanting shellfish over the holidays buy it from a supermarket or seafood retailer.
For up to date information on health warnings visit www.ttophs.govt.nz/health_warnings or call 0800 221 555.