EMERGING MARINE BIOTOXINS – report from the seminar 2012

Abstract

Marine biotoxins (also called phycotoxins) are produced by certain phytoplankton species (diatoms and dinoflagellates) and can accumulate in various marine species such as fish, crabs or filter feeding bivalves (shellfish) such as mussels, oysters, scallops and clams. In shellfish, toxins mainly accumulate in the digestive glands without causing adverse effects on the shellfish itself. However, when substantial amounts of contaminated shellfish are consumed by humans this may cause severe intoxication. Approximately 60,000 human intoxications yearly with overall mortality of approximately 1.5% are related to toxins produced by algae (including freshwater cyano toxins) (1). This is both public health and economic problem. The necessary regular monitoring of specifically susceptible sites has a serious economic impact, moreover if the site gets closed during harvest, collection of that year as well as that of the following one can be hindered. In the case that toxic products make it to market resulting in fatalities or illness, consumers need to be compensated.

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