CONFIRMED. A bulletin issued by the BFAR Central Office confirmed the presence of red tide in Lianga Bay that covers the towns of Lianga, Barobo, San Agustin, and Marihatag in Surigao del Sur. BFAR has issued a warning to residents in the area to refrain from gathering and eating shellfish. (Photo grab from BFAR-13 Facebook Page)

BUTUAN CITY – A day after the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Caraga Region (BFAR-13) issued a warning to the public to refrain from eating all types of shellfish from Lianga Bay due to the presence of a toxic microorganism, health authorities confirmed the death of a couple due to shellfish poisoning.

On Wednesday, a couple identified as Leonito Namoc and wife Lucia, both of Purok 3, Barangay Kinayan, Barobo, Surigao del Sur were rushed to the Lianga District Hospital when both lost consciousness after consuming shellfish from Lianga Bay.

Lianga Bay covers the area of Lianga, Barobo, San Agustin, and Marihatag in Surigao del Sur.

Medical attendants at the hospital failed to revive the couple hours after losing consciousness.

A copy of the medical record of Lucia sent to Philippine News Agency showed that she died of cardiorespiratory arrest due to shellfish poisoning.

The result of the confirmatory lab test, released by BFAR 13 on Thursday, said “samples collected from Lianga Bay in Surigao del Sur are now positive with red tide toxin. Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxin level in shellfish samples collected from the said areas is 130.34-417.32 μgSTXeq/100g (microgram of saxitoxin equivalent per 100 grams) of shellfish meat.”

The result was contained in Shellfish Advisory No. 21 dated November 28 signed by Eduardo B. Gongona, Undersecretary for Fisheries of the Department of Agriculture.

To avoid shellfish poisoning, the BFAR warned the public to refrain from eating shellfish from Lianga Bay in Surigao del Sur until such time that the toxicity level has gone down below the regulatory limit of 60 μgSTXeq/100g of shellfish meat.

Meanwhile, Joshua Osorio, a chemist at BFAR-13 also called on Surigao del Sur residents to refrain from consuming shellfish from Liganga Bay.

In a text message sent to Philippine News Agency, Osorio said people misunderstand the dangers of the red tide by believing that it is safe to eat cooked shellfish affected by such toxic poisoning.

“Marine biotoxins are heat-stable and cannot be disintegrated by any means, be it by acidification by the use of vinegar nor by heating or subjecting it even at cryogenic temperatures,” Osorio said.

The report gathered from the community in Barobo where the couple who died of shellfish poisoning resided said they consumed uncooked shellfish, locally known as “kinilaw” before losing consciousness.

With the case of two deaths, BFAR-13 has intensified its warning in communities along the Lianga bay to refrain from the gathering and consumption of shellfish. (PNA)