I spotted this bit of news today.
Scientists Warn Climate Change Will Trigger Rise In Terrifying Illness
Think twice before ordering the snapper.
Associate Editor, HuffPost Hawaii
Posted: 12/02/2015 05:13 PM EST
As if rising sea levels, extreme weather
and a host of other drastic environmental impacts weren't enough, scientists are now predicting that global climate change will lead to an increase in ciguatera -- a nasty and incurable foodborne illness.
Ciguatera is caused by eating tropical reef fish
(such as grouper, snapper and barracuda) that have been contaminated with toxins from marine
microalgae. It can result in nausea, vomiting and even some neurologic symptoms, including tingling fingers or toes and a reversed sense of hot and cold temperatures.
In a new study published in the journal Ecological Modeling, researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that expected increases in ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico
and the Caribbean
through 2099 will likely lead to far more abundant and more diverse neurotoxins associated with ciguatera fish
is part of a larger effort to develop and implement strategies for managing the risk of the illness, NOAA said in a release.
“Contaminated fish have no specific taste, color, or smell and there is no easy method for measuring ciguatoxins,” said Steve Kibler, a NOAA scientist and the study’s lead author, in the release. “However, we can forecast
risk based on where and when we are likely to find the algae that produce ciguatoxins.”
More than 400 fish species are known to become contaminated, according to NOAA. In U.S. waters, ciguatera occurs in Hawaii
, southern Florida
, Puerto Rico
, the U.S. Virgin Islands
and occasionally in the Gulf of Mexico
Earlier this year, a study found that ciguatera poisonings in Florida
were an estimated 28 times more common that previously thought.
An estimated 10,000 to 50,000 people suffer from the illness each year, making it the most commonly reported marine
toxin disease in the world. However, those are likely just the tip of the iceberg, as only an estimated 2 to 10 percent of all cases are actually reported to health
While ciguatera's symptoms can be treated, the illness itself has no cure. And anecdotal reports indicate that some patients experience recurring neurologic symptoms upon consuming alcohol, fish and other foods, even years after the initial exposure.
“Whatever I touched, if it was hot, it would feel cold. If it was cold, it felt hot,” one patient recalled. “I couldn’t walk on the tile floor. It felt like it was burning me.”
If global sea level rise wasn't enough to convince you it's time to reduce your carbon footprint, maybe your appetite for fish will.