High levels of the same toxins which killed two dogs at East Anglian beaches found in starfish

Chris Poole's dog died after eating a crab-like creature on Felixstowe beach. Picture: SARAH LUCY B

Chris Poole's dog died after eating a crab-like creature on Felixstowe beach. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Toxins which caused the death of two dogs in Norfolk and Suffolk have now been confirmed come from starfish rather than other types of shellfish.

Toxins which caused the death of two dogs in Norfolk and Suffolk have now been confirmed come from starfish rather than other types of shellfish.

In January, two dogs, a seven-year-old siberian husky and a golden retriever called Hattie both died in separate incidents on the East Anglian coastline. In January, testing carried out by Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) confirmed that the dogs had been killed by the Paralytic Shellfish Poisioning toxin (PSP) which is thought to have come from contaminated creatures eaten by the dogs.

Further testing carried out by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) found low levels of PSP toxins in crabs, whelks and shrimps from the affected areas.

However, further tests on starfish samples showed that they contained extremely high levels of toxins.


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PSP toxins are usually associated with creatures such as mussels, clams, oysters and scallops.

It is still not known where the contaminated animals came from but it is thought that they were probably washed up on beaches during winter storms and will now have been washed back into the sea.

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IFCA is co-ordinating the work of relevant agencies including local authority Environmental health departments to establish the source and extent of the contamination.

The Dab fish thought to have been eaten at the incident at Cley in Norfolk was found to be contaminated with PSP but at a level below the regulatory maximum allowed.

Advice is still being given to recreational sea anglers to return any Dab caught at this time of year as a precautionary measure.

The CEO of Eastern IFCA, Julian Gregory, said, “Any risk is only because of ingestion so our advice to the public remains the same.

“There is a low level of risk to beach users and their pets but as a precaution it is suggested that dogs are kept under close control, on leads or muzzled and people should avoid handling starfish.

“There is no risk to people or pets from seawater.”

Pet owners whose animals have become ill after eating items on the beach are asked to report the incident to the District or Borough Council for the area where the incident took place.

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