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Health Department warns of Fish Poisoning

By Renay Rouse

September 23, 2015

Martin County, FL – The Florida Department of Health in Martin County is investigating three cases of ciguatera fish poisoning associated with the consumption of one fish caught on the Mercedes Reef in Ft. Lauderdale in August.

All three residents became ill after fishing together and consuming some of the 30 pound amberjack. The residents are recovering and none were hospitalized.

Ciguatera fish poisoning is an illness caused by eating fish that contains toxins produced by microscopic marine algae. Large reef fish can accumulate high concentrations of these natural toxins in their flesh and organs. Ciguatoxic fish do not look or taste bad.

Barracuda, black grouper, blackfin snapper, cubera snapper, dog snapper, greater amberjack, hogfish, horse-eye jack, king mackerel, and yellowfin grouper have been known to carry ciguatoxins.

Symptoms of ciguatera include nausea, vomiting, itching and neurologic symptoms such as tingling finger or toes. The classic symptom is sensory confusion of hot items feeling cold and cold items feeling hot. There is no cure for ciguatera. Symptoms usually go away in a few days, but can linger for months or years.

If you suspect that you have ciguatera, contact your doctor to determine the treatment options.