Health Department Warns Against Eating Anchovies, Sardines from Monterey, Santa Cruz Counties

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    Sardines are seen in this file image.

    The California Department of Public Health is advising consumers not to eat anchovies or sardines caught in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties due to dangerous levels of domoic acid that have been detected in the fish.

    Consumers are also advised not to ingest the internal organs of crabs from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties due to domoic acid toxicity.

    Domoic acid is a naturally occurring marine toxin that doesn't hurt marine animals but can be dangerous for humans.

    In anchovies and sardines, the acid resides in the digestive tract, which presents a danger because the fish are typically not gutted before consumption.

    People can show symptoms of domoic acid poisoning within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness.
    In severe cases, patients may experience respiratory problems, confusion, seizures, memory loss or death.

    As of Thursday, there have been no reported cases of domoic acid poisoning associated with this warning.

    The Department of Public Health is working with commercial fisherman to keep recently harvested anchovies, sardines and crabs off the market.

    This warning is in addition to a warning issued last week not to eat recreationally harvested mussels, clams and whole scallops from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties due to the same acid.