Ciguatera Fish Poisoning

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ciguatera fish poisoning is an illness caused by eating fish that contain toxins produced by a marine microalgae. Dr. Edward Hill tells us more about this illness in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

The ciguatera toxin is created by microalgae that naturally live in warm-water oceans. Fish eat the toxin-containing algae, and as larger fish eat smaller fish, the toxin becomes concentrated in the larger fish. People may become ill with ciguatera fish poisoning after eating certain contaminated fish.

Tropical and subtropical fish that may contain the toxin include amberjack, grouper, snapper and barracuda.

Symptoms begin within six to 24 hours of eating affected fish. Gastrointestinal problems include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Neurologic symptoms may include numbness or tingling, pain in the joints or muscles, headaches, dizziness, and weakness. Cardiovascular problems may include irregular heart rhythm, slow or fast heart rate, and low blood pressure.

There is no specific cure for ciguatera fish poisoning, but symptoms can be treated until the illness resolves on its own. Most poisoning resolves in a few days or weeks, but in severe cases the neurologic symptoms may last for weeks or months.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.