VENTURA, Calif. - California's annual mussel quarantine has started early after testing found toxins harmful to humans.
The Ventura County Star reports (http://bit.ly/10C4DnJ ) state health officials began advising the public this week not to collect mussels because of elevated levels of domoic acid. The ban usually begins May 1.
The six-month quarantine applies to sport harvesting of all mussel species along the California coast, as well as in bays, harbors and estuaries.
Domoic acid poisoning is linked to plankton that are concentrated in filter-feeding animals, including bivalve shellfish like mussels. The majority of human cases of illnesses occur between spring and fall.
Commercially harvested shellfish are not included in the quarantine. Commercial harvesters are subject to strict requirements to ensure that all oysters, clams and mussels entering the marketplace are free of toxins.