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Poisonous animals
Cnidarians (Jellyfish, Corals and Anemones)
Venomous fish
Hymenopterans (Bees, Wasps and Ants)
Sea snakes
Terrestrial snakes
Miscellaneous animals



Poisoning due to marine snails

Clinical entries

For clinical data see section “Risk” below


Mollusca; Gastropoda

Common names



Poisoning is known to occur in the Pacific Region, with the centre in Japan.


Fig. 4.2 Neptunea arthritica


Different types of marine snails, which are regularly eaten in particular in Japan, can contain toxins in the viscera or muscle tissue. The toxins are taken up via food sources, and not all members of a species are toxic. Saxitoxin, neosaxitoxin and gonyautoxins, which are also associated with paralytic shellfish poisoning, have been isolated from Turbo snails (Turbo sp.) and Tectus snails (Tectus sp.). These substances also appear to be contained in the Olive snail (Olivia vidua fulminans). Tetrodotoxin has been detected in Charonia sauliae (Trumpet shells) and Babylonia japonica (Ivory shells); this substance is also found in Puffers and various other animals. Surugatoxin and neosurugatoxin have also been found in Babylonia japonica; these substances have a blocking effect on the ganglionic synapses of the autonomic nervous system.


Poisoning due to Babylonia japonica became known from cases in Japan, where this marine snail is widely distributed along the coast. Also in Japan there have been cases of poisoning after the consumption of Neptunea sp., Buccinum sp. and Fusitrion sp. (Whelks or Ivory shells) and Haliotis sp. (Abalone). 5 cases of fatal poisoning due to Olivia vidua fulminans were reported from Borneo.

Signs and symptoms

Depending on the concentration of the poison, the same signs and symptoms may occur as seen in paralytic shellfish poisoning (saxitoxin) or tetrodotoxin poisoning.


Symptomatic (see Diagnosis & Treatment: Poisonous animals).

Literature (biological)

Bagnis et al. 1970, Auerbach and Halstead 1989, 2001b, Mebs 1989b, 1992