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Increased Food Poisoning Cases from Florida Fish

Posted on in Food Poisoning
Increased Food Poisoning Cases from Florida Fish

In Florida there has been an increase in reported illnesses resulting from eating barracuda. Communities around Miami and the Florida Keys have been particularly affected by the barracuda-borne illness.

What is Causing the Illness?

In the Florida Keys and Bahamas, algae that grow in warm waters produce a toxin called ciguatera. Small coral reef fish then ingest the toxin by eating the algae. The smaller fish carry the poison onto larger carnivorous fish that prey on the smaller fish. These larger carnivorous fish, especially barracudas, are then caught and consumed by humans who then are exposed to ciguatera, resulting in a dangerous food chain reaction.

Symptoms of Ciguatera Poisoning

Symptoms of ciguatera poisoning can begin within three hours of digestion and include:

  • Severe vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Pain and tingling in the mouth, hands, and feet

How Ciguatera Poisoning is Treated

There is no treatment for ciguatera poisoning and most who become infected recover. However, some are left with neurological defects such as temperature reversal, which is when one experiences reverse feelings of hot and cold.

How to Detect Ciguatera in Fish

The ciguatera toxin is not easily detected. It does not have a smell nor can it be seen with the naked eye. It cannot be eliminated from the fish through cooking or freezing.

Where is Ciguatera Toxin Found?

The highest concentration of ciguatera has been found to be in barracudas but has also been detected in:

  • Grouper
  • Amberjack
  • Hogfish
  • Snapper
  • Mackerel
  • Mahi-mahi

How to Protect Yourself from Ciguatera Poisoning

Although most infections have been reported in Florida, ciguatera from barracuda consumption has sickened people as far north as North Carolina. The best way to protect yourself from being exposed to this toxin is to avoid eating barracuda altogether.

If you do consume a large, carnivorous fish it is important that you know where it comes from, especially if it came from a tropical or subtropical area. If you get sick following consumption, contact your doctor immediately and inform him or her that you ate saltwater fish.

The Florida State Health Department also plans to raise awareness about ciguatera poisoning from fish consumption.

Have You Been Exposed to Ciguatera?

If you have recently consumed a large, carnivorous fish that originates from a tropical or subtropical area and have been exhibiting symptoms of ciguatera poisoning, it is vital that you seek legal assistance. Ciguatera poisoning occurs rapidly with severe symptoms, including potential neurological issues, so it is important to find an attorney who can promptly provide you the legal service you need to get through this difficulty. At the Law Offices of Newland & Newland, LLP, we have a team of experienced lawyers who possess the skills and expertise needed to guide you through this process. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation and discuss your legal options. We make hospital and house visits upon request.

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