What is ciguatera, what the symptoms are and how to avoid getting it.
What is ciguatera?
Ciguatera is a foodborn illness (food poisoning) caused by eating fish that is contaminated by ciguatera toxin. Ciguatera toxin is a heat-stable lipid soluble compound, produced by dinoflagellates and concentrated in fish organs, that can cause nausea, pain, cardiac, and neurological symptoms in humans when ingested.
What species of fish carry ciguatera?
Any reef fish can cause ciguatera poisoning, but species such as barracuda, grouper, red snapper, moray eel, amberjack, parrotfish, hogfish, sturgeonfish, kingfish, coral trout, and sea bass are the most commonly affected. Ciguatoxins are concentrated in the fish liver, intestines, heads, and roe.
What are the symptoms of ciguatera?
The onset of symptoms vary with the amount of toxin eaten from half an hour to up to two days and include:
•Hot and cold sensations
How is ciguatera treated?
There is no effective treatment or antidote for ciguatera poisoning. Treatment is largely supportive and symptom driven. Medications used to treat ciguatera poisoning include the following: Activated charcoal. Antihistamines.
How long does infection last?
The symptoms can last from weeks to years, and in extreme cases as long as 20 years, often leading to long-term disability. Most people do recover slowly over time.
How does one avoid getting ciguatera?
1. Avoid or limit consumption of reef fish.
2. Never eat high-risk fish such as barracuda or moray eel.
3. Avoid the parts of the fish that concentrate ciguatera toxin: liver, intestines, roe, and head.