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Mar Drugs. 2008 Jun 10;6(2):308-48. doi: 10.3390/md20080015.

Non-traditional vectors for paralytic shellfish poisoning.

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US Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, College Park, Maryland, 20723, USA.


Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), due to saxitoxin and related compounds, typically results from the consumption of filter-feeding molluscan shellfish that concentrate toxins from marine dinoflagellates. In addition to these microalgal sources, saxitoxin and related compounds, referred to in this review as STXs, are also produced in freshwater cyanobacteria and have been associated with calcareous red macroalgae. STXs are transferred and bioaccumulate throughout aquatic food webs, and can be vectored to terrestrial biota, including humans. Fisheries closures and human intoxications due to STXs have been documented in several non-traditional (i.e. non-filter-feeding) vectors. These include, but are not limited to, marine gastropods, both carnivorous and grazing, crustacea, and fish that acquire STXs through toxin transfer. Often due to spatial, temporal, or a species disconnection from the primary source of STXs (bloom forming dinoflagellates), monitoring and management of such non-traditional PSP vectors has been challenging. A brief literature review is provided for filter feeding (traditional) and non-filter feeding (non-traditional) vectors of STXs with specific reference to human effects. We include several case studies pertaining to management actions to prevent PSP, as well as food poisoning incidents from STX(s) accumulation in non-traditional PSP vectors.


PSP; SPFP; STXs; crustaceans; gastropods; non traditional vectors; paralytic shellfish poisoning; public health; puffer fish; saxitoxin puffer fish poisoning; saxitoxins

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