Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). An unusually high mortality rate is associated with PSP. The condition is caused by any of about 20 toxins derived from the neurotoxin saxitoxin. It is most often associated with molluscan shellfish, gastropods like moon snails, and crabs that feed on other shellfish. It takes usually under two hours for symptoms to appear in an infected person. Symptoms include tingling mouth, fingers, and toes, followed by a loss of motor control in the arms and legs. If enough toxin is consumed, a person might experience difficulty breathing or even paralysis of respiratory and chest muscles, causing suffocation. For these reasons, PSP can quickly become deadly.
“The issue producers face, then, is finding a consistent, accurate, and easy-to-use method for testing their shellfish for the toxins that produce these conditions,” says Neogen’s Brooke Roman. “Testing methods can be qualitative, meaning they simply screen for the presence of any given toxin, or they can be quantitative, meaning they provide a precise value that can be used to determine where a product’s toxin level is at relative to regulatory limits.”