Fish like grouper, barracuda may pose food-poisoning risk

Fish like grouper, barracuda may pose food-poisoning risk
They can sometimes contain toxin that can't be detected before eating, CDC warns.

(HealthDay)—People who eat large, tropical predatory reef fish such as barracuda and grouper may be at risk for a form of food poisoning called ciguatera fish poisoning, U.S. health officials reported Thursday.

Illness occurs when people eat fish that contain toxins produced by a called Gambierdiscus toxicus, according to the U.S. .

Some symptoms of ciguatera poisoning—such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea—resemble other types of food poisoning. But ciguatera poisoning also causes such as difficulty walking, weakness, tooth pain, and reverse temperature sensation (for example, cold things feel hot and hot things feel cold) that can persist for months, the CDC report said.

There's no cure for ciguatera but the symptoms can be treated and usually go away in days or weeks. However, symptoms can last for years in some people.

The CDC report said there was a significant increase in ciguatera poisoning cases in New York City among people who ate locally purchased barracuda or grouper in 2010 and 2011. Until then, ciguatera poisoning was fairly uncommon in the city.

During the period August 2010 through July 2011, city health officials received reports of six outbreaks and one single case of ciguatera fish poisoning, involving a total of 28 people. One of the patients was a physically active man who swam more than two miles a day before his illness. After the start of symptoms, he had trouble walking that lasted for several months, the CDC report said.

Ciguatoxins don't hurt the fish. And fish with the toxins don't look sick and don't appear, smell or taste different than fish without the toxins, the researchers noted.

Currently, there is no practical way to test fish for the toxins before they're sold. So prevention efforts depend on knowing which have that might contain the toxins, along with accurate diagnosis of patients and consistent reporting of cases to public health agencies, according to the report, which is published in the Feb. 1 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

More information: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about ciguatera.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

FDA issued advisory to Gulf seafood firms

Feb 05, 2008

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory to seafood processors concerning recent illnesses linked to fish carrying the ciguatera toxin.

Fast new test for terrible form of food poisoning

Nov 09, 2011

Scientists are reporting development of a fast, reliable new test that could help people avoid a terrible type of food poisoning that comes from eating fish tainted with a difficult-to-detect toxin from marine ...

Recommended for you

US judge overturns state's abortion law (Update)

17 hours ago

A federal judge on Wednesday overturned a North Dakota law banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy and before many women know they're pregnant.

User comments