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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.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.
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
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