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an acute intoxication caused by ingestion of bivalve mollusks contaminated with the neurotoxin (saxitoxin) secreted by certain dinoflagellates, protozoa that are an important component of marine plankton. One form, paralytic shellfish poisoning, is caused by species of Gonyaulax, and is characterized by paresthesias of the mouth, lips, face, and limbs, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; in rare severe cases muscle weakness or paralysis and respiratory embarrassment and death may occur. A self-limited milder form, neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, not associated with paralysis, is caused by species of Gymnodinium.
Etymology: AS, scell + fisc
a toxic neurologic condition that results from eating clams, oysters, or mussels that have ingested the toxin-producing protozoa commonly called the red tide. The characteristic symptoms appear within a few minutes and include nausea, lightheadedness, vomiting, and tingling or numbness around the mouth, followed by paralysis of the extremities and, possibly, respiratory paralysis. Saxitoxin, the causative agent, is not destroyed by cooking. However, the severity of the illness is diminished if the water used in cooking is not consumed. See also Gonyaulax catenella, venerupin poisoning.
Poisoning caused by eating shellfish that have fed on plankton during a red tide. There are several recognized syndromes that may result, including amnesic shellfish poisoning, diarrheal shellfish poisoning, and paralytic shellfish poisoning.
See also: poisoning