AVOID eating tahong, talaba, halaan and other shellfish, for now, the Department of Health (DOH) 7 advised.

It issued the water after the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Central Visayas issued a red tide advisory.

BFAR’s advisory last June 24 followed a report that 12 people in different towns in Bohol Province suffered from paralytic shellfish poisoning. Nine were admitted to hospitals, while three received treatment as outpatients.

The victims had reportedly eaten shellfish from the coastal waters off Barangays Totolan and Songulan in Dauis town and Barangays Poblacion and Bool in Tagbilaran City.

According to DOH 7 Program Manager and Medical Specialist Dr. Joanri Riveral, paralytic shellfish poisoning is caused by toxins from edible mollusks and fishes that have fed on harmful algal blooms (red tide).

Algal blooms, Riveral said, are natural phenomena but climate change and improper waste disposal have made it harmful.

These shelled creatures do not get poisoned because of their filtering mechanism. But when humans eat these mollusks, the toxin is ingested into our system, where they attack nerve endings and impair sensation, causing paralysis.

Worse, Riveral said, these toxins also attack the respiratory system, and victims can suffer difficulty in breathing and swallowing. This is what makes paralytic shellfish poisoning potentially fatal.

BFAR 7 Assistant Regional Director Dr. Allan Poquita said that although the advisory only covers Dauis, they are still alerting everyone in the region.

Aside from mollusks, fish can also be affected by red tide.

Okay ra ang isda, but we have to advise nga limpyohan unya hugasan og maayo. (Fish is okay, but we have to advise that it should be cleaned and washed thoroughly.) Remove the internal organs and gills,” said Poquita.

Poquita assured that Cebu’s fish and shellfish supply has not been compromised, since the bureau deployed the Bantay Dagat to watch over affected areas in Bohol and make sure no one harvests shellfish there.

“It’s manageable but we have to be alarmed,” he added.

BFAR 7 is also monitoring the Medellin and Bogo bays in Cebu, and Siaton and Bais bays in Negros Oriental.

According to a dyLA report, Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto advised people in the entire province to avoid eating all types of shellfish, until all areas are checked and cleared of red tide toxins.

Samples will be collected from Cogtong Bay in Candijay, Cabulao Bay in Mabini town and the seas off Ubay-Talibon towns.

Fish and shellfish vendors in Cebu’s Carbon Public market said that despite the warnings, sales remain normal.

Wala ra man mi nabalaka sa red tide kay wa may labot diri. Halin man gihapon ang kinhason, tahong ug isda (We are not worried by the red tide since it has not reached Cebu. People still buy our shellfish and fishes),” a vendor said.