PRESENCE OF TOXINS. A map shows the coastal town of Leyte, Leyte. Shellfish meat collected in the coastal waters of Leyte, Leyte turned positive for red tide toxins, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources regional office here said on Wednesday (Dec. 7, 2022). (Google map)

TACLOBAN CITY – Shellfish meat collected in the coastal waters of Leyte, Leyte turned positive for red tide toxins, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional office here warned on Wednesday.

In an advisory, BFAR said paralytic shellfish toxin was found during the laboratory examination by the BFAR-Regional Fisheries Laboratory in the city.

“To safeguard human lives and mitigate impacts to the shellfish industry while waiting for the BFAR central office test result, this local red tide warning is issued as a precautionary advice to the public to refrain from gathering, selling, and eating all types of shellfishes and Acetes sp., locally known as Alamang or Hipon, from this bay,” the bureau said.

Through testing, BFAR found that shellfish samples from the bay have over 60 micrograms of toxins for every 100 grams of meat, beyond the regulatory limit.

Meat samples gathered in the coastal waters of Leyte, Leyte have been sent to the BFAR National Fisheries Laboratory for confirmatory test and inclusion in the nationwide shellfish bulletin.

Leyte town is located in the northwestern part of Leyte Island.

The BFAR regional office is also waiting for the result of a test of meat samples gathered in Cancabato Bay in Tacloban City and the coastal waters of Guiuan in Eastern Samar.

Under Shellfish Bulletin 23 issued on Nov. 21, 2022 by the BFAR main office, the shellfish ban is also up in Irong-Irong Bay in Catbalogan City in Samar and San Pedro Bay in Basey town, also in Samar.

The change in weather patterns has been blamed for the red tide presence in the region, according to BFAR.

Fish, squid, crab, and shrimp gathered from these areas are safe to eat provided that all entrails are removed and the marine products are washed thoroughly with running water before cooking.

The BFAR asked local government units to heighten their watch against the gathering, trading, and consumption of shellfish to prevent the incidence of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), which can occur minutes after ingesting bivalve shellfish (such as mussels, oysters, and clams) that contain red tide toxins.

Early PSP symptoms include tingling of the lips and tongue and may progress to tingling of fingers and toes and then loss of control of arms and legs, followed by difficulty in breathing.

Red tide is a term used to describe a phenomenon where the water is discolored by high algal biomass or a high concentration of algae. (PNA)