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BFAR Issues Red Tide Alert to 11 Areas Across PH

If you're a fan of seafood, you might want to hold off on shellfish for the meantime.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has prohibited the sale and consumption of shellfish from 11 areas all over the country due to the surge in red tide toxins.

The infested bays included the coastal waters of Dauis and Tagbilaran City in Bohol; Tambobo Bay, Siaton, in Negros Oriental; Daram Island, Cambatutay and Irong-irong bays in Western Samar; Calubian and Cancabato Bay, Tacloban City, in Leyte; Murcielagos Bay in Zamboanga del Norte; Balete Bay, Mati City, in Davao Oriental; and Lianga and Bislig bays in Surigao del Sur.

What Is ‘Red Tide’?

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A red tide is a dangerous overgrowth of microscopic marine plants known as algae.  (Photo from Kevin Schafer/Getty Images/NBC News)

Red tide is a term used to describe a phenomenon in which there is a discoloration of the water due to high algal biomass or concentration of algae.

Despite the term, the discoloration may not necessarily be red but may also appear yellow, brown, green, blue, or milky, depending on the organisms involved. (Read: This youth group just donated P240,000 worth of fishing gear and boat engines to fisherfolks in Puerto Princesa City)

While there are cases that red tide is harmless, it is almost always harmful. Red tide is one of the causes of fish kills, while others are considered poisonous to humans.

What Seafoods Are Unsafe to Eat?

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Photo from Philippines Lifestyle News

When there is a red tide alert, it is best to stay off seafood for the meantime, especially filter-feeding shellfish such as clams, cockles, oysters, mussels, and scallops.

Shellfish are particularly prone to toxin contamination because they feed through filtering microscopic food which may contain harmful and toxic substances. 

It is also safe to stay away from snails and whelks because they might have consumed contaminated shellfish. Alamang is also not safe to eat when it comes from red tide-infested waters. 

Meanwhile, it is safe to consume fish, squids, crabs, and shrimps.  (Read: 3 Food Items to Avoid If You’re Trying to Lose Weight)

What Happens if Toxic Shellfish Are Consumed?

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Beneficiaries look at fishing boats donated by San Miguel Corp. recently at Sariaya, Quezon which is expected to help sustain their livelihood. (Photo from Daily Tribune)

The most common effect of eating contaminated shellfish is paralytic shellfish poisoning. After ingestion, the poison may immediately affect the nervous system within 30 minutes. The severity depends on the amount of toxins ingested.

Symptoms include tingling of the lips and tongue, which spreads to the face, neck, and fingertips. It may be followed by headaches, dizziness, and nausea– which can sometimes be mistaken for drunken conditions. (Read: Here’s Why You Should Learn First Aid Today)

In severe cases, muscular paralysis and difficulty in breathing may occur within five to 12 hours. Respiratory paralysis has been one of the reported causes of death for those who have consumed toxic shellfish.

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