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Paralytic shellfish poisoning

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) is one of the four recognized syndromes of shellfish poisoning, which share some common features and are primarily associated with bivalve mollusks (such as mussels, clams, oysters and scallops). These shellfish are filter feeders and, therefore, accumulate neurotoxins, called saxitoxin, produced by microscopic algae, such as dinoflagellates, diatoms, and cyanobacteria. Dinoflagellates of the genus Alexandrium are the most numerous and widespread saxitoxin producers and are responsible for PSP blooms in subarctic, temperate, and tropical locations. The majority of toxic blooms have been caused by the morphospecies Alexandrium catenella, Alexandrium tamarense, and Alexandrium fundyense, which together comprise the A. tamarense species complex.

In Asia, PSP is mostly associated with the occurrence of the species Pyrodinium bahamense. Human toxicity and mortality can occur after ingestion of these animals, but toxicity is also seen in wild animal populations.

Also some pufferfish, including chamaeleon puffer, contain saxitoxin, making their consumption hazardous.