Consuming shellfish in Sabah should still be avoided as red tide is still prevailing in waters off the state’s west coast.

Sabah Fisheries Department Director Rayner Stuel Galid said on Monday the toxic level is between 600 and 800 Mouse Unit (MU), which is a dangerous level for humans.

“This phenomenon is expected to tail off by August and people should refrain from taking shellfish especially those from Kuala Penyu and areas off Kota Kinabalu City, Sipitang and Tuaran as clam samples collected from these areas few months ago was among the highest in Sabah,” he said.

“Food poisoning and even death can result from the consumption of red tide intoxicated shellfish,” he said, adding the lowest MU unit considered safe for humans is below 400 MU.

Traders are also reminded to cooperate with the authorities by not selling the shellfish as they could risk the lives of people.

“Only the Fisheries Department can detect the presence of this toxin in all types of shellfish in our specialized lab and not by mere sight or smell,” Rayner explained.

He added that the toxin in shellfish also couldn’t be washed away even by cooking or washing repeatedly.

More than a hundred people had been warded for red tide poisoning earlier this year, while three deaths had been recorded from this deadly algae bloom.

Symptoms of the deadly algae bloom, commonly known as the red tide phenomenon, includes tingling of the lips and tongue depending on the severity of the poisoning.

Symptoms may progress to a ‘prickling of pins and needles’ sensation followed by the loss of control in a person’s arms and legs and later difficulty in breathing.

Those with such symptoms are advised to seek immediate medical attention as delay may result in death.

The red tide phenomenon was detected in November last year and was supposed to have tailed off by end of June.