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Toxins 2018, 10(3), 94;

Fatal Canine Intoxications Linked to the Presence of Saxitoxins in Stranded Marine Organisms Following Winter Storm Activity

Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Barrack Road, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 8UB, UK
Taverham Veterinary Hospital, Fir Covert Road, Taverham, Norwich, Norfolk NR8 6HT, UK
Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ES, UK
Environment Agency, Dragonfly House, 2 Gilders Way, Norwich, Norfolk NR3 1UB, UK
North Norfolk District Council, Holt Road, Cromer, Norfolk, NR27 9EN, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 February 2018 / Revised: 19 February 2018 / Accepted: 21 February 2018 / Published: 26 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Paralytic Shellfish Toxins)
PDF [1125 KB, uploaded 28 February 2018]


At the start of 2018, multiple incidents of dog illnesses were reported following consumption of marine species washed up onto the beaches of eastern England after winter storms. Over a two-week period, nine confirmed illnesses including two canine deaths were recorded. Symptoms in the affected dogs included sickness, loss of motor control, and muscle paralysis. Samples of flatfish, starfish, and crab from the beaches in the affected areas were analysed for a suite of naturally occurring marine neurotoxins of dinoflagellate origin. Toxins causing paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) were detected and quantified using two independent chemical testing methods in samples of all three marine types, with concentrations over 14,000 µg saxitoxin (STX) eq/kg found in one starfish sample. Further evidence for PSP intoxication of the dogs was obtained with the positive identification of PSP toxins in a vomited crab sample from one deceased dog and in gastrointestinal samples collected post mortem from a second affected dog. Together, this is the first report providing evidence of starfish being implicated in a PSP intoxication case and the first report of PSP in canines. View Full-Text
Keywords: paralytic shellfish poisoning; starfish; saxitoxins; intoxication; dog; mammals paralytic shellfish poisoning; starfish; saxitoxins; intoxication; dog; mammals

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Turner, A.D.; Dhanji-Rapkova, M.; Dean, K.; Milligan, S.; Hamilton, M.; Thomas, J.; Poole, C.; Haycock, J.; Spelman-Marriott, J.; Watson, A.; Hughes, K.; Marr, B.; Dixon, A.; Coates, L. Fatal Canine Intoxications Linked to the Presence of Saxitoxins in Stranded Marine Organisms Following Winter Storm Activity. Toxins 2018, 10, 94.

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