Health Advisory: Ciguatera Fish Poisoning

July 6, 2018

The Ministry of Health have advised of cases of Ciguatera Fish Poisoning [CFP] in the community, saying so far this year they have “received 4 reports of the poisoning.”

A Government spokesperson said, “The Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit [ESU] of the Ministry of Health and Department of Environment and Natural Resources would like to inform the public of cases of Ciguatera Fish Poisoning [CFP] in the community.

“So far this year, ESU has received 4 reports of the poisoning, compared to 2017, when there was only 1 report and 2016, when 20 persons were affected by symptoms associated with ciguatera poisoning.

“Ciguatera fish poisoning [CFP] causes vomiting, diarrhea and neurological issues such as tingling sensations and reversal of cold and hot sensations [that is hot items ‘feel’ cold and cold items ‘feel’ hot].

“Ciguatera fish poisoning [CFP] is caused by toxins [or poisonous substances] from microscopic marine plants, that build-up in large predatory fish. The fish are not affected by the toxin and the handling of the fish [i.e. how it was stored post-catch, or filleted] does not affect the presence of the toxin.

“CFP does not change the appearance, taste or smell of a fish and it is not affected by cooking or freezing. There is no simple detection test.

“However, when the poisoned fish is eaten, it can cause symptoms in persons that include vomiting, diarrhea, itching, tingling, nerve pain, and the reversal of hot and cold sensations.

“The reversal of hot and cold sensations is a telltale sign of CFP because it is absent in other types of fish-related food poisoning. Vomiting and diarrhoea may be severe, moderate or absent. Additional symptoms include nausea, vertigo, joint and muscle pain, weakness, and numbness or burning in the mouth. The poisoning, however, is not fatal.

“Symptoms may begin as little as one hour after consuming toxic fish and can persist for an extended period of time. CFP is unpleasant, but most people that are affected recover fully over time.

“The fish identified in the outbreaks to date are large amberjacks, large yellow jacks [larger than 20lbs], barracuda and grey snapper.

“ESU and the DENR are collaborating to investigate reports of the poisoning and are handling any reports of fish causing these symptoms.

“If you or someone you know has experienced or may have experienced the symptoms listed above, please contact your physician.

“Your physician will contact the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit by calling 332-8932 or emailing Prompt reporting of CFP makes it easier to track down the source and can help prevent further cases.”

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Comments (8)

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  1. SickOfFish says:

    Make that 6

  2. wondering says:

    is there a warning associated with where the fish were consumed (restaurants, roadside bought or store bought) OR if the cases reported outlined their own personal handling of the fish – was it sat in their car for the ride home from somerset to st georges, was it prepared correctly, some charter boats serve up sashimi due to the higher volume of tuna fish caught this year, i believe 2016 had a similar catch status for tuna fishes OR was it left to defrost in the sink and forgotten before it was prepared……al information that i would expect the ESU to have collated and at least be reported upon carefully so as not to cast the blame on the fisherman who DID ice his catch down vs. the one that didn’t OR the chef who has caused cross contamination in the kitchen setting with fish left out too long OR it is just different microorganisms that have entered the food chain before the fish gets to the table…………….

    • Munga says:

      In the Carribean to check for ciguartera they place the fish near an ant colony, if the ants start eating the fish then they wash off the fish and eat it. If the ants avoid it they discard the fish.

  3. Helo says:

    It’s not human error. Please reread….it is caused by “toxins from microscopic marine plants” that build up in the fish.

  4. JB says:

    My family bought Bonita on Wednesday the July 4th and ate on July 5th. 4 out of 5 people became sick. My wife spent the entire day in the ER. We are still feeling the effects and unfortunately this can last a long time.

    • Biggadon says:

      I feel your families pain… a West Indian there are certain fish I simply dont eat because of the high chances of being poisoned by them like barracuda. when ever I go fishing with friends in BDA and there is barracuda among the catch I tell they can have it all I dont want any, maybe now they will take it serious. I have seen my parents sick from eating Barracuda and they still eat it.SMH ! Many years ago there was no talk of ciguatera in BDA…just maybe the waters are getting warmer in the north atlantic so the algae is now able to grow in our waters and contaminate our fish.

  5. JB says:

    The only 100% way to avoid is to 100% avoid eating reef fish

  6. SickOfFish says:

    Bought Amberjack from a local supermarket. The two who ate it got sick. Staying away from reef fish from now on.

    No blame to anyone because it can’t really be detected or cooked out. Fish had been brought in same day.