Neuropoisons pp 159-168 | Cite as

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning and Saxitoxin

  • Edward J. Schantz


During the past 200 years or more, medical records from various parts of the world have reported sporadic outbreaks of poisoning in humans following the ingestion of shellfish. This type of poisoning, termed shellfish or mussel poisoning, results in death or a temporary incapacitating illness that lasts a day or two. The symptoms begin with a numbness in the lips, tongue, and fingertips, and they may be apparent within a few minutes after eating poisoned shellfish. This is followed by a feeling of numbness in the legs, arms, and neck, with general muscular incoordination. A feeling of lightness, as though floating on air, is often described by the afflicted persons. Other associated symptoms may be listed as dizziness, weakness, drowsiness, incoherence, headache, and the like. The mental symptoms vary, but most patients appear calm and remain conscious during the illness. As the illness progresses, respiratory distress and muscular paralysis become more and more severe, and death results from respiratory paralysis within 2–12 hr, depending upon the magnitude of the dose. If one survives 24 hr the prognosis is good, and there appears to be no lasting effect from the ordeal.


Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Shellfish Poisoning Aromatic Nitrocompounds Effective Antidote Mouse Unit 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward J. Schantz
    • 1
  1. 1.Biological Sciences LaboratoriesFrederickUSA

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