Ciguatera Poisoning

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Quick GuideFood Poisoning Pictures Slideshow: 20 Common and Uncommon Types, Signs and Symptoms

Food Poisoning Pictures Slideshow: 20 Common and Uncommon Types, Signs and Symptoms

What is the treatment for ciguatera poisoning?

If you or someone you know has ingested a fish that you suspect might be contaminated with ciguatera toxin, and you or they have signs or symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, pain, trouble breathing, seizure, confusion, or abnormal skin color, call either an ambulance or the National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) for guidance.

  • The National Poison Control Center phone number is 1-800-222-1222. This number is routed to the poison control center that serves your area.
  • Place the telephone number (along with police, fire, and 911 or equivalent) near your home phones.
  • Do not induce vomiting or give syrup of Ipecac.
    • Ipecac was formerly used to induce vomiting in poisoned patients where there was a chance to get the toxin out of the body. Several advisory bodies such as the American Association of Poison Control Centers and the American Academy of Pediatrics have recommended that Ipecac NOT be used and that it should not even be kept in the household. For more information on this subject go to: http://www.poison.org/prepared/ipecac.asp
  • Do not give activated charcoal at home. Allow medical personnel to decide if this treatment is appropriate.

The poison control center will instruct you what to do.

  • Maintain hydration. Intravenous fluids may be necessary for uncontrollable nausea and vomiting.
  • There is no specific antidote for ciguatera poisoning.
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may help relieve itching. Give 25-50 mg every 6 hours.
  • Alcohol, fish, nuts, and nut oils should be avoided after exposure to ciguatera poisoning because they may trigger recurrent symptoms.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/11/2016

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