Ciguatera Poisoning - Experience

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What is ciguatera poisoning?

Ciguatera is a type of food poisoning. The ciguatera toxin may be found in large reef fish, most commonly barracuda, grouper, red snapper, eel, amberjack, sea bass, and Spanish mackerel. These fish live in coral reef waters between latitudes of 35 degrees south to 35 degrees north, corresponding to the area located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. These geographic lines ring the earth north and south of the equator and make up the tropics. These areas include the Caribbean Sea, Hawaii, and coastal Central America.

Ciguatera toxin tends to accumulate in predator fish, such as the barracuda and other carnivorous reef fish, because they eat other fish that consume toxin-producing algae (dinoflagellates) that live in coral reef waters.

Ciguatera toxin is harmless to fish but poisonous to humans. The toxin is odorless and tasteless, and it is heat-resistant, so cooking does not destroy the toxin. Eating ciguatera-contaminated tropical or subtropical fish poisons the person who eats it.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Esther, (Patient) Published: January 27

My symptoms ranged from feeling as if I was walking on hot coals for about a month after ciguatera poisoning to intense itching over the chest and arms similar to but much worse than being bitten by fierce fire ants; temperature reversal (cold water felt like boiling oil), lock jaw (lasted for the first day), loss of short term memory (lasted and recurred for 5 years), inability to focus (could barely remember my own name), disorientation, loss of appetite, and dramatic and constant change in eyesight which has continued for past 23 years. I am no longer able to read for more than an hour or so without extreme eye and brain stress. These are just a few of my symptoms. There were 18 altogether. The itching is recurrent still, 23 years later.

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Comment from: P.H., 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 05

My sister and I ate amberjack on August 15. Gastrointestinal symptoms of ciguatera poisoning abated within 24 to 36 hours but the other symptoms continue. My sister saw her doctor. We've been taking Vistaril and seizure medication. I have just been taking ibuprofen and antihistamines. We still seem to be in the same place with symptoms. The medications her doctor prescribed make her extremely drowsy. We have already eliminated nuts, oils, alcohol, fish, beans, and seeds from our diet.

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