Two in Kudat die after eating poisonous sea cucumber

Borneo Post, 4 Feb 2013

KOTA KINABALU: Two men have died after eating a poisonous species of sea cucumber in Sabah’s northern Kudat district.

State Fisheries Department director Rayner Stuel Galid said the deaths were due to the consumption of a species of sea cucumber known locally as pelanduk laut and unrelated to the red tide poisoning.

“We tested the specimen and found that the sea cucumber has its own toxin,” he said.

The men, aged 51 and 54, died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here on Thursday after they became ill from eating the sea cucumber during a meal with four other people at Kg Suangpai in Kudat.

It is learnt that the two men, who had suffered from severe vomiting, numbness and breathing difficulties, were initially treated at the Kudat Hospital on Wednesday before being transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here.

Two others who took the same meal were also treated in Kudat but they had less severe symptoms.

The toxic sea cucumber, which has black and purple dots, is found in Kudat’s Marudu bay.

Two people have so far died from red tide poisoning in Sabah since it first occurred off its shores in November in a phenomenon that is expected to last until June.

The red tide phenomenon is triggered by a deadly algae bloom, which produces toxic or harmful effects to marine life and turns the water red.


One dead, 17 hospitalised after eating ‘red tide’ mussels

The Star, 13 Feb 2013


KOTA KINABALU: A man died and 17 others were hospitalised after consuming mussels and bivalves infected with red tide toxins, in the most serious case of paralystic shellfish poisoning (PSP) this season.

Sabah Fisheries Department director Rayner Stuel Galid said his department received a report from the State Health Department about the latest incident.

The victims had all purchased cockles and bivalves from street peddlers at the Inanam market, Galid said in a statement on Wednesday.

He said the red tide warning was still in place and urged the public to avoid consuming all types of marine shellfish or bivalves.

These include sea oysters, mussels, cockles, bivalves and any type of clam-like seafood.

Beginning late November, the department detected a high amount of PSP toxins in samples of bivalves obtained from the west coast through its red tide monitoring programme.

In January, two teenagers died from consuming poisonous shellfish.

Among the initial symptoms include tingling lips and tongue, a sensation of the ‘pins and needles’ on the skin, followed by loss of control of arms and legs, and difficulty breathing that could result in death.


Many still eating clams from red tide-hit areas

The Star, 23 Jan 2013

KOTA KINABALU: Despite numerous warnings against the dreaded red tide off Sabah’s west coast, there are still people selling and consuming clams and other sea products from the area.

Two people have reportedly died due to poisoning caused by toxic clams while there have also been cases of mild poisoning in several areas.

Many sellers are claiming their clams come from the state’s safer east coast and, as such, are not infected by the harmful algal blooms.

These blooms, or HABs, occur when colonies of algae — ocean plants that live in the sea — grow out of control producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds.

The human illnesses caused by HABs, though rare, can be debilitating or even fatal.

Some people here are said to have kept their clams in clean water for at least two days, believing the deadly algae would die, before consuming them.

Fisheries department quality assurance division head Bonyface Jintony said they were conducting operations to stop people from selling these clams, shellfish and other sea products.

“The department is working closely with the Health Ministry to monitor this problem.

“Action will be taken against those found selling shellfish or clams that put the public health at risk.

“People should be aware of the red tide as the department has already issued an alert,” said Bonyface, adding that the toxin in the clams would remain even if they were soaked in fresh water for several days.

He added that recent tests showed the cell algae per litre density was at 100,000 units.

“Anything above 7,000 cell algae per litre is considered critical,” said Bonyface.