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Canadian Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning Symposium

The first diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) outbreak in BC's history occurred in August 2011, when over 60 people became ill from eating cooked mussels.  DSP is caused when shellfish ingest toxin producing algae.  When contaminated shellfish are consumed, rapid onset of diarrhea, nausea and vomiting symptoms (similar to norovirus) can occur.  The toxin cannot be inactivated by heat and, therefore, DSP can be associated with raw and cooked shellfish.

New:  Published papers related to this symposium can be found in this special issue of Marine Drugs, including the BC outbreak and the formation of a volunteer harmful algal bloom monitoring network
Read about screening tests for DSP in WA State, how climate and the ocean impacts DSP bloom formations, and SPATT sampling for DSP detection.

The DSP Symposium was held on  November 27, 2012 at the Pinnacle Hotel at the Pier in North Vancouver.

Symposium Presentations - Nov 27 2012

Presentations are posted with permission of the authors.
Note: written abstracts can be found in the program.

Name of Presenter

Presentation Title



 Dr. Lora Fleming An Overview of Harmful Algal Blooms and Human Health PDF
 Wade Rourke Testing for Marine Toxins and DSP PDF
 Nicky Haigh The benefits of phytoplankton monitoring for aquaculture operations PDF
 Dr. David Cassis Phytoplankton diversity and screening for small shellfish growers PDF
 Marsha Taylor BC Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning 2011 Outbreak PDF
 Jenny Lloyd Washington Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning 2011 Outbreak PDF
 Elysha Gordon Risk Management and Communication for Biotoxin and Sanitary Closures (Fisheries and Oceans) PDF
 Roberta Stevenson Risk Management and Communication (BC Shellfish Growers Industry Association) PDF
 Lorraine McIntyre Risk Management and Communication (BC Centre for Disease Control) PDF
Deirdre Kelly Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program and the CFIA Marine Biotoxin Program in BC PDF
The objectives of this symposium were to:
  • provide a forum to educate key stakeholders on this emerging issue
  • create a DSP network
  • identify research and surveillance priorities in BC
  • build capacity in BC to respond to DSP and other shellfish toxin outbreak investigations
  • optimize risk communication messaging to stakeholders and the public during outbreaks and harmful algal bloom events

This symposium hosted a diverse audience including shellfish growers, epidemiologists, laboratory scientists, medical practitioners, environmental health officers, researchers and government regulators.

Last Updated: October 29, 2013