Susan Buckley, RN, Director, Public Health
Ira Singh, MPH, Deputy Director
Donald I. Baird, MD, Health Officer

Division of Environmental Health


Date Released: 10/31/2008
Contact: Harriet Hill, Registered Environmental Health Specialist, Environmental Health Division
Phone: (707) 445-6215

The annual mussel quarantine for sport-harvested mussels ends at midnight on Friday, October 31, 2008. Extensive sampling of mussels confirmed that shellfish-borne toxins are presently at safe or undetectable levels along the California coast.

Every year the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announces an annual quarantine that extends from May 1st through October 31st for sport-harvested mussels. The quarantine is intended to protect the public from paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) and domoic acid poisoning. The quarantine is seasonal because the overwhelming majority of human cases of PSP illnesses occur between spring and fall. However, shellfish for human consumption should only be taken from areas free of sewage or chemical contamination during all times of the year.

No commercially harvested shellfish are included in the annual quarantine. All commercial shellfish harvesters in California are certified by the state. They are subject to strict requirements to ensure that all oysters, clams and mussels entering the marketplace are free of toxins. Commercial harvesting is stopped immediately if potentially dangerous levels of toxins are found.

Questions regarding the mussel quarantine can be directed to the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Environmental Health at 707-445-6215 or 1-800-963-9241.

In addition, consumers can receive updated information about PSP and domoic acid by calling CDPH’s toll-free Shellfish Information Line at 1-800-553-4133.


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