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Western Pac Surveill Response J. 2015 May 8;6(2):22-6. doi: 10.5365/WPSAR.2015.6.1.004. eCollection 2015 Apr-Jun.

Lethal paralytic shellfish poisoning from consumption of green mussel broth, Western Samar, Philippines, August 2013.

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Field Epidemiology Training Program, National Epidemiology Center, Department of Health, Sta Cruz, Manila, Philippines . ; Department of Health, Sta Cruz, Manila, Philippines .
Department of Health, Sta Cruz, Manila, Philippines .



In July 2013, the Philippines' Event-Based Surveillance & Response Unit received a paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) report from Tarangnan, Western Samar. A team from the Department of Health conducted an outbreak investigation to identify the implicated source and risk factors in coastal villages known for green mussel production and exportation.


A case was defined as a previously well individual from Tarangan, Western Samar who developed gastrointestinal symptoms and any motor and/or sensory symptoms after consumption of shellfish from 29 June to 4 July 2013 in the absence of any known cause. The team reviewed medical records, conducted active case finding and a case-control study. Relatives of cases who died were interviewed. Sera and urine specimens, green mussel and seawater samples were tested for saxitoxin levels using high performance liquid chromatography.


Thirty-one cases and two deaths were identified. Consumption of > 1 cup of green mussel broth was associated with being a case. Seawater sample was positive for Pyrodinium bahamense var. compressum and green mussel samples were positive for saxitoxin. Inspection revealed villagers practice open defecation and improper garbage disposal.


This PSP outbreak was caused by the consumption of the green mussel broth contaminated by saxitoxin. As a result of this outbreak, dinoflagellate and saxitoxin surveillance was established, and since the outbreak, there have been no harmful algal blooms event or PSP case reported since. A "Save Cambatutay Bay" movement, focusing on proper waste disposal practice and clean-up drives has been mobilized.

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