Shellfish contamination prompts harvesting closure off Vancouver Island's west coast
Heavy rain after extended drought has increased risk of contamination, officials say
Canadian officials are warning the public not to harvest shellfish near Barkley Sound, off Vancouver Island's west coast, due to contamination.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) says intense rain following a lengthy drought in the area has created health and safety risks, including the possibility of paralytic shellfish poisoning.
Anyone who has recently harvested in the area should not consume them, as cooking will not destroy the toxins associated with the illness.
Symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning can begin anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours after consuming contaminated shellfish and include tingling, numbness of the lips, mouth, face, arms and legs, dizziness, weakness, paralysis and respiratory failure.
It can also lead to death, so officials are advising anyone who does fall ill to seek immediate medical attention.
DFO says fisheries officers will be patrolling the area to make sure people are aware of the closure. It will remain in effect for at least seven days. The department will issue a notice once the ban has been lifted.