Diarrhetic Shellfish Poison Leads to Closure for Shellfish Harvesting in Budd Inlet


A marine biotoxin that causes diarrhetic shellfish poison (DSP) has been detected at unsafe levels in shellfish in Budd Inlet in Thurston County.

As a result, the Washington State Department of Health and the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services Department have closed all of Budd Inlet to recreational shellfishing from inner Budd Inlet to Boston Harbor and the tip of Cooper Point, stated a news release from Thurston County. 

Shellfish sampled from Budd Inlet contained DSP biotoxin at levels of 19 micrograms per 100 grams, which is above the safety limit of 16 micrograms per 100 grams established by the Washington State Department of Health.

“Warning signs have been posted at public beaches alerting people not to collect shellfish due to the biotoxin closure,” stated the release. “Existing permanent swimming and shellfish harvest closures due to pollution in inner Budd Inlet and near wastewater treatment plant outfalls remain in effect.”

DSP symptoms can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, with diarrhea being the most reported symptom, stated the release. 

DSP biotoxins are produced by naturally occurring algae and can accumulate in shellfish, making the shellfish unsafe to eat. Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing, according to the release.  Shellfish harvested commercially that are available in stores and restaurants are tested for toxin prior to distribution and are safe to eat.