Environmental Health

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Environmental Health

Director: Jennifer Johnson

Shellfish Safety
Attention Shellfish Consumers: Check Before You Dig!

Health Department issues Recreational Shellfish Harvest Closure for South Skagit, Similk Bay, and Deception Pass
Closed until additional sampling indicates toxin levels have declined.

Call the Shellfish Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 or visit the Biotoxin Website to protect yourself against Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning.

If you plan on digging in the the Samish Bay notices about Fecal Coliform closures can be found here.

What is Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning?
When specific conditions align, including sunlight, water temperature, and particular nutrients, a microscopic, poison-producing plankton can reproduce very rapidly in seawater. The over-growth of this plankton is also known as Red Tide. When shellfish feed on this plankton, they accumulate a toxin that can cause serious illness and even death to those who consume the shellfish. It is very important not to consume shellfish that have been contaminated by this toxin. Cooking shellfish does not prevent Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning. For more information view PSP (Paralytic Shellfish Poison) FAQS
Infectious Shellfish Hazards
Water contaminated with fecal matter reaching our bays and shellfish beds can cause shellfish to harbor disease causing viruses and bacteria such as Hepatitis A, Noro Virus, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Cooking shellfish properly will inactivate and kill these disease causing agents. The Health Department recommends always cooking shellfish to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit.