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Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning

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.

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


Wade Rourke

Testing for Marine Toxins and DSP


Nicky Haigh

The benefits of phytoplankton monitoring for aquaculture operations


Dr. David Cassis

Phytoplankton diversity and screening for small shellfish growers


Marsha Taylor

BC Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning 2011 Outbreak


Jenny Lloyd

Washington Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning 2011 Outbreak


Elysha Gordon

Risk Management and Communication for Biotoxin and Sanitary Closures (Fisheries and Oceans)


Roberta Stevenson

Risk Management and Communication (BC Shellfish Growers Industry Association)


Lorraine McIntyre

Risk Management and Communication (BC Centre for Disease Control)


Deirdre Kelly

Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program and the CFIA Marine Biotoxin Program in BC

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.

SOURCE: Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning ( )
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