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Dog deaths across East Anglian coastline confirmed as fatal shellfish poisoning

PUBLISHED: 11:05 29 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:29 29 January 2018

Jo Cook walking her dog Boris on the beach at Wells. Picture: Ian Burt

Jo Cook walking her dog Boris on the beach at Wells. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A message for dog owners attached to a Norfolk Coast Path sign on the beach at Cley. Picture: Ian BurtA message for dog owners attached to a Norfolk Coast Path sign on the beach at Cley. Picture: Ian Burt

Following a spate of dog deaths across the Norfolk and Suffolk coast, it has today been confirmed that Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) has been the cause of many pet owners’ heartbreak.

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning is caused by consuming shellfish contaminated with dinoflagellate algae, a naturally occurring toxin which can be 1,000 times more deadly than cyanide.

The Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) has confirmed that the death of a Siberian Husky after eating a shore crab at Felixstowe Ferry, Suffolk, earlier this month is likely to have been caused because of this poisoning.

Similar findings were also made in relation to a Golden Retriever that died having eaten a fish on the beach at Cley, North Norfolk, on New years’ Eve.

Map key - Red pin: Confirmed death, Yellow pin: Reported sickness

The Eastern IFCA said: “Testing last week 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.

“PSP Toxins around the regulatory limit for bivalve molluscs were found in one sunstar starfish.”

It is thought that the contaminated shellfish was washed ashore due to winter storms, and have likely now been washed back into the sea.

Dr Andrew Turner, from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science said: “There is no risk to people or animals from the seawater.

A message for dog owners attached to a Norfolk Coast Path sign on the beach at Cley. Picture: Ian BurtA message for dog owners attached to a Norfolk Coast Path sign on the beach at Cley. Picture: Ian Burt

“The only risk is from ingesting PSP-contaminated animals found on the beach, so simple precautions should be followed to ensure that pets and people do not eat anything they find on the beach.”

This may include keeping a closer eye on dogs on the beach, or muzzling those who may try to eat washed up fish.

Anglers who may also be fishing for Dab at this time of year have been advised to return their catches to the sea, after a small amount of PSP was found in one such fish in Cley.

Owners of pets that have become ill after consuming items on a beach are asked to report the matter to the District or Borough Council for the area where the incident occurred.

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