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

30 May 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.