Epidemiology and Infection

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Epidemiology and Infection (2010), 138:927-940 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

Review Article

Shellfish toxicity: human health implications of marine algal toxins

K. J. JAMESa1a2 c1, B. CAREYa1a2, J. O'HALLORANa2a3, F. N. A. M. van PELTa2a4 and Z. ŠKRABÁKOVÁa1a2

a1 PROTEOBIO (Mass Spectrometry Centre), Cork Institute of Technology, Bishopstown, Cork, Ireland
a2 Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork, Lee Road, Cork, Ireland
a3 Department of Zoology, Ecology and Plant Science, University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, Ireland
a4 Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
Article author query
james kj [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
carey b [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
o'halloran j [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
van pelt fna [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
škrabáková z [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]


Five major human toxic syndromes caused by the consumption of shellfish contaminated by algal toxins are presented. The increased risks to humans of shellfish toxicity from the prevalence of harmful algal blooms (HABs) may be a consequence of large-scale ecological changes from anthropogenic activities, especially increased eutrophication, marine transport and aquaculture, and global climate change. Improvements in toxin detection methods and increased toxin surveillance programmes are positive developments in limiting human exposure to shellfish toxins.

(Accepted March 24 2010)

(Online publication April 23 2010)

Key Words:Food safety; toxic fish and shellfish poisoning; toxins


c1 Author for correspondence: Professor K. J. James, PROTEOBIO, Cork Institute of Technology, Bishopstown, Cork, Ireland. (Email: kevin.james@cit.ie)