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Health Department warns of contaminated mussels found in Meetinghouse Creek

After mussels collected from Meetinghouse Creek in Riverhead tested positive for a marine biotoxin, the Suffolk County Health Department issued a warning to avoid harvesting and eating shellfish and carnivorous gastropods in both Meetinghouse Creek and Terry Creek until further notice.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced a temporary ban in the creeks due to the presence of marine biotoxins in shellfish and the potential presence of biotoxins in carnivorous gastropods, which feed on shellfish.

“Though Terry Creek and Meetinghouse Creek were already uncertified year-round for the harvest of shellfish, including oysters, clams, mussels and scallops, due to bacteriological concerns, this new ban prohibits harvesting of three gastropods: whelks, conchs, and moon snails, which had until present been allowed for harvest,” said James Tomarken, the Suffolk County Health Commissioner. “Our concern is for the health of the public.”

The contaminated mussels collected from Meetinghouse Creek tested positive for saxitoxin, which causes paralytic shellfish poisoning. Symptoms of PSP depend on the amount of toxin ingested and can progress from tingling of the lips and tongue to numbness of the face, neck and limbs, loss of muscular control followed by difficulty breathing. Anyone experiencing those symptoms should seek medical care.

Maps of affected areas and temporary closures can be found here.