Dog owners in Tendring are being advised to take extra care when walking their pets on the beach.
They are being asked to take simple precautions following two cases of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, (PSP) in North Norfolk and Suffolk.
It has been confirmed that the death of a Siberian Husky after eating a shore crab at Felixstowe Ferry, Suffolk, last month is highly likely to have been because of PSP.
This follows similar findings in relation to a Golden Retriever that died after eating fish on the beach at Cley in North Norfolk on New Year’s Eve.
Testing carried out by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) found high concentrations of PSP toxins in starfish and dab connected with the incident at Cley. Very high concentrations were found in starfish and partially digested shore crab connected with the incident at Felixstowe Ferry. The toxins are naturally occurring.
Analysis of samples and symptoms of the affected dogs also indicates their deaths were likely to have been a consequence of ingesting PSP- contaminated [marine] animals.
Testing at the end of last month on a variety of marine species, including brown/edible crab, spider crabs, shore crabs, velvet swimming crabs, dab and whelks from North Norfolk and Suffolk, have revealed low levels of PSP toxin in some of the samples and no PSP at detectable levels in others.
It is thought that the contaminated animals were washed up on beaches during winter storms and are likely to have now been washed back into the sea.
Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (Eastern IFCA) is co-ordinating the activity of relevant agencies in seeking to establish the source and extent of the PSP contamination.
The agencies involved include Cefas, the Food Standards Agency, Local Authority Environmental Health departments, the Marine Management Organisation and the Environment Agency.
The CEO of Eastern IFCA, Julian Gregory, said: ‘It is important we take a measured and joined-up approach in working to find out what the extent of PSP contamination may be. At this point there is nothing to indicate that species sold for human consumption such as brown crabs or lobster is affected but as a precautionary measure we are sampling a range of marine animals to ensure that any on-going PSP contamination is identified.’
Dog walkers are being advised to take simple precautions to prevent their pets from consuming anything found on a beach.
Michael Talbot, Tendring District Council’s (TDC) Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Whilst walking on the coast this includes keeping pets under close control, on leads or muzzled. There is no evidence to show that there is an issue on Tendring’s beaches but it is better to be safe than sorry.
“Any owners of pets that have become ill after consuming items on a beach are asked to report the matter to TDC on 01255 686767 once a vet has confirmed they meet the possible symptoms of PSP.”
Fishermen are also being advised that if they catch dabs they may want to return them to the sea.
Originally published 06/2/18 and updated 19/2/18