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Azaspiracid Shellfish Poisoning

Causative organism: Azadinium spinosum, Amphidoma

Toxins produced: Azaspiracid

Produced by the dinoflagellates Azadinium spinosum and Amphidoma, this compound is responsible for a condition known as azaspiracid shellfish poisoning, or AZP. The first record of human intoxication occurred in the Netherlands in 1995, and the illness was traced to blue mussels from Ireland. The symptoms are similar to diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, and include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The condition is not fatal, and full recovery usually occurs within 2-3 days of exposure. This toxin is mainly found bioaccumulated in blue mussels and scallops, but other organisms include oyster, razor clam, cockles and brown crab. Azaspiracid has a global distribution and is tested for and regulated in Europe but not yet in North America. In the United States, Azadinium and azaspiracids have been detected in Puget Sound, WA.

Global Distribution of AZP

Causative OrganismExposure RoutesAffected Areas
Azadinium spinosum, Amphidoma Shellfish (eg. Blue Mussels, Scallops)Northwest Africa, Western Europe, Chile, Japan, North America - Puget Sound

Additional Resources

Identification of Azadinium species and a new azaspiracid from Azadinium poporum in Puget Sound, Washington State, USA
Kim, J.H., Tillmann, U., Adams, N.G., Krock, B., Stutts, W.L., Deeds, J.R., Han, M.S. and Trainer, V.L., 2017. Harmful Algae68, pp.152-167.
DOI: 10.1016/j.hal.2017.08.004