June 21, 2010
According to officials at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, the patient, 57-year old John Michael Saunders from Haines, reportedly developed symptoms consistent with PSP after eating Dungeness crab in Haines on Friday. It is believed that the PSP came from the viscera (guts). PSP is not normally found in the crab meat. Symptoms included tingling in his lips, numbing in his body, weakness and poor coordination. Saunders was medevaced to Juneau on Saturday and released from the hospital this morning.
The crab was reportedly caught in front of Jenkins Rock near the Chilkat Inlet of Lynn Canal. No one else who ate crab caught at the same time reported any symptoms.
DEC and DHSS officials warn the public not to consume the viscera from recreational and subsistence harvested crabs. Crab meat is not considered to be a source of PSP. Additionally, DEC plans to begin testing crab from the implicated southeastern area.
This is the fifth case of paralytic shellfish poisoning reported to the state in the past two weeks. Shellfish consumers should be aware that PSP can occur in any shellfish at any time of the year, and should be aware of the classic PSP symptoms, including numbness or tingling of the face, arms, and legs; headache; dizziness; nausea; and poor coordination, so that they may immediately induce vomiting if they occur.
PSP is considered a public health emergency and must be reported immediately to the Section of Epidemiology by health care providers.
Tuesday morning at 5:16 am, Alaska State Troopers responded to 57-year old John Michael Saunders' residence on Mud Bay Road in Haines responding to a report that Saunders was found deceased. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was on scene and had pronounced Saunders deceased.
Saunders had been medi-vacced to Juneau on Sunday where he was diagnosed with Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning "PSP" at Bartlett Regional Hospital.
According to the AST''s report, no foul play is suspected and drugs or alcohol were not a factor. Next of kin have been notified.
The body will be transported to the Medical Examiner in Anchorage for autopsy.
Saunders' may be the second person to have died from paralytic shellfish poisoning. Fifty-seven-year-old Dottie Lindkoff of Juneau died Thursday of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).
Alaska Department of Health & Social Services officials say there have been five reported cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning in the past two weeks.
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