Ciguatera sounds like an exotic product, but it is a harmful toxin that infects a variety of fish. If a person ingests fish contaminated by the ciguatera toxin, he/she may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tingling, pain (muscle, abdominal, and general), numbness, dizziness, vertigo, drooling, paralysis, skin rash, chills, itching, trouble breathing, seizure, confusion, and/or abnormal skin color. Death due to heart or respiratory failure occurs in very rare cases.
In other words, ingesting a contaminated fish is very harmful to one’s health. Thus, fish known to be contaminated with the ciguatera toxin should be avoided. These fish include:
Black Fin Red Snapper
Black Saddled Coral Grouper
High Fin Grouper
Speckled Blue Grouper
Areolated Coral Grouper
Leopard Coral Grouper
Yellow Fin Grouper
Hump Head Wrasse
- Background: The ciguatera toxins originate from a marine micro-organism which attach and grow on coral reef and marine algae (seaweed). Small fish eat the toxic surface, the larger fish eat the small fish, and humans eat the large fish. These contaminated fish tend to be located in tropical and subtropical areas. Try to eat only a few coral reef fish and only buy from reputable vendors.
- Infection: Seek medical advice and treatment immediately; call the National Poison Control Center; do not drink alcoholic beverages; and do not eat nut or seed products.