Ciguatera fish poisoning comes from eating fish that is contaminated by
ciguatera toxin. Ciguatera toxin, an odorless and tasteless toxin, is lipid soluble compound, produced by Gambierdiscus toxicus. It is heat resistant, thus cooking will not destroy the toxin. The ciguatera toxin is commonly found in large reef fish such as, barracuda, black grouper, blackfin snapper, red snapper, eel, greater amberjack, sea bass and Spanish mackerel. When the large reef fish ingest dinoflagellates or certain smaller fish, they accumulate the toxin. Although the large fish may accumulate the toxin in their body, it does not cause harm to the fish, but the same cannot be said for humans.
Ciguatera fish poisoning is reportedly the most common seafood-toxin illness worldwide, with approximately 50,000 cases each year. Although common, they are rarely fatal. Children are more prone to severe symptoms, which will be discussed further later. Although there is no cure, symptoms can be treated aptly.
Symptoms of Ciguatera Fish Poisoning
Ciguatera fish poisoning results to gastrointestinal, cardiac and nerve damage. Although symptoms general show within six to eight hours, there have been cases where symptoms began to manifest as early as two hours or as late as eight hours. The common symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Muscle pain
- Numbness and tingling
- Reversing hot and cold sensation
- Feeling of loose teeth
- Intense itching
- In severe cases:
- Drop in blood pressure
When to Seek Medical Attention Regarding Ciguatera Fish Poisoning
Although there is no general protocol in treating ciguatera fish poisoning, there are some cases which may require seeking medical attention. If any of the following begin to show, seek medical attention:
- Symptoms of severe cases as prior mentioned
How to Treat and Manage Ciguatera Fish Poisoning
Because there is not antitoxin available for ciguatera fish poisoning, it is normally advised to do some first aid to avoid complications from this type of poisoning.
- Some physicians would recommend inducing vomiting if the person is conscious and alert but this will only be effective within the first three to four hours after ingestion. Some doctors would recommend activated charcoal for gastrointestinal decontamination.
- Avoid dehydration. Drink small amount of fluid but frequently if the person is having a hard time keeping it down.
- In severe cases, intravenous (IV) fluids may be necessary.
- Osmotic diuretics have been prescribed to reduce the symptoms.
- Amitriptyline and gabapentin can be taken to decrease neural pain symptoms.
- Diphenhydramine and gabapentin are prescribed to ease itching symptoms.
- To reduce pain, acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain.
- In the meantime, avoid fish, nuts, nut oils and alcohol to avoid recurring symptoms.
Food poisoning is a common occurrence all over the world. To learn how to treat food poisoning and its different forms, such as ciguatera food poisoning, enroll in first aid courses all over the country.