Facebook Pixel

Ciguatera fish poisoning

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
Rate This

Ciguatera fish poisoning

Ciguatera is a form of human poisoning caused by the consumption of subtropical and tropical marine finfish which have accumulated naturally occurring toxins through their diet.

What are the symptoms of ciguatera fish poisoning?

Manifestations of ciguatera in humans usually involves a combination of gastrointestinal, neurological, and cardiovascular disorders. Symptoms defined within these general categories vary with the geographic origin of toxic fish. Initial signs of poisoning occur within six hours after consumption of toxic fish and include perioral numbness and tingling (paresthesia), which may spread to the extremities, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Neurological signs include intensified paresthesia, arthralgia, myalgia, headache, temperature sensory reversal and acute sensitivity to temperature extremes, vertigo, and muscular weakness to the point of prostration. Cardiovascular signs include arrhythmia, slowed heart rate or rapid heart rate, and reduced blood pressure.

How is ciguatera diagnosed?

Clinical testing procedures are not presently available for the diagnosis of ciguatera in humans. Diagnosis is based entirely on symptomology and recent dietary history.

What foods are associated with ciguatera fish poisoning?

Marine finfish most commonly implicated in ciguatera fish poisoning include the groupers, barracudas, snappers, jacks, mackerel, and triggerfish. Many other species of warm-water fishes harbor ciguatera toxins. The occurrence of toxic fish is sporadic, and not all fish of a given species or from a given locality will be toxic.

How common is ciguatera fish poisoning?

The relative frequency of ciguatera fish poisoning in the United States is not known. The disease has only recently become known to the general medical community. There is a concern that incidence is largely under-reported because of the generally non-fatal nature and short duration of the disease.

What are the complications of ciguatera fish poisoning?

Ciguatera poisoning is usually self-limiting, and signs of poisoning often subside within several days from onset. However, in severe cases the neurological symptoms are known to persist from weeks to months. In a few isolated cases neurological symptoms have persisted for several years. In other cases, recovered patients have experienced recurrence of neurological symptoms months to years after recovery. Such relapses are most often associated with changes in dietary habits or with consumption of alcohol. There is a low incidence of death resulting from respiratory and cardiovascular failure.

Who is susceptible to ciguatera fish poisoning?

All humans are believed to be susceptible to ciguatera toxins. Populations in tropical/subtropical regions are most likely to be affected because of the frequency of exposure to toxic fishes. However, the geographic range of human poisonings has expanded. This is due to increasing per capita consumption of fishery products coupled with an increase in interregional transportation of seafood products.


Food and Drug Administration

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Food Poisoning

Get Email Updates

Food Poisoning Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!