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2/8/2009

Ciguatera tropical fish poisoning

Filed under: disease/health — admin @ 1:04 pm

Ciguatera fish poison is a neurological toxin that can result in serious
disease symptoms in people who eat fish from nearshore tropical oceans.
Ciguatoxin is produced by a microscopic dinoflagellate algae (Gambierdiscus
toxicus) and passed up the food chain.

The dinoflagellate is eaten by herbivorous reef fish, which are in turn
eaten by larger carnivorous fish, with each step concentrating the toxin.
The geographic distribution of toxic fish is very inconsistent. It is not
uncommon for fish from one side of the island to be poisonous while the
same species from the other side of the island is safe to eat.

Ciguatera poisoning is a serious threat to public health and fisheries
development along tropical and subtropical shorelines. As many as 400
million people live in these areas and many are unaware of the dangers of
ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP). More than 60,000 people get ciguatera
poisoning each year, worldwide. Predictions are for more CFP outbreaks as
increased fish consumption drives worldwide trade, particularly exports
from fish-rich tropical Island nations.

Ciguatera toxin tends to accumulate in predator fish, such as the barracuda
and other carnivorous reef fish, because they eat other fish that consume
toxin-producing algae (dinoflagellates) that live in coral reef waters.

Ciguatera toxin is harmless to fish but poisonous to humans. The toxin is
odorless and tasteless, and it is heat-resistant, so cooking does not
destroy the toxin. Eating ciguatera-contaminated tropical or subtropical
fish poisons the person who eats it.

Ciguatera Fish Poisoning (Toxin) Symptoms

Symptoms generally begin six to eight hours after eating the contaminated
fish.

Symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, numbness,
tingling, abdominal pain, dizziness, and vertigo.

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