Scallops sometimes eat a type of toxic dinoflagellate (known as the cause of the red tide), accumulate this toxin in their bodies and become poisonous. This toxin is called Saxitoxin and it has a high fatality rate.
Symptoms of poisoning start with numbness in the lips, tongue and side of the face as well as a burning sensation that eventually spreads to the ends of the limbs and causes loss of sensation. When it gets even worse, the victim loses the ability to move their body. Even in end stage, the victim maintains consciousness until breathing ceases and then finally dying from suffocation. There have been a number of cases of death from Saxitoxin on either coast of the North American continent, but there are very few cases of poisoning in Japan.
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Revision date: November 25, 2022