Gord May ©
Though I have often (and safely) eaten smaller Barracuda (and other predatory reef fish) over the years, I cannot recommend the practice. I am not expert on Ciguatera Poisoning, nor it’s avoidance. Perhaps I’m just lucky? I personally enjoy Barracuda (and they’re plentiful & easy to catch) - so - For what it’s worth ...
There are many excellent on-line references
to Ciguatera, including:
is caused by consuming tropical marine
fish which have accumulated a toxin (icthyosarcotoxin) which originates from certain species of algae (dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus). This algae is consumed by small fish (grazers) , which in turn are eaten by larger (predatory) fish, and so on up the food
chain. The toxin generally accumulates in larger predator reef fish (fish under 5 Lbs are less likely to be contaminated, or at least less so) such as:
Grouper, Amberjack, Sea Bass, Barracuda, Snappers, Eels, and Spanish Mackerel.
The toxin is odourless, tasteless, lipid soluble, and is heat stable - so cooking does not destroy it.
The occurrence of toxic fish, (usually between 35 Degrees North & 35 S.) is sporadic, and not all fish of a given species or from a given locality will be toxic. When cases are reported, or certain types of algae 'blooms' have occurred, warnings are sometimes issued to avoid eating large fish of the implicated species until testing shows the toxin no longer present. You cannot rely upon “warnings” in remote
areas, but “local knowledge” may offer some insight into which reefs
, at which times of year, are likely to remain uncontaminated.
Avoiding consumption of tropical reef fish is the only true method of prevention.
Although the following precautions are not failsafe, they may decrease the incidence of ciguatoxin poisoning:
~ Avoid ingestion of fish larger than 4 -5 Pounds
(2-3 kg) that are at the top of the food
chain (Grouper, Amberjack, Sea Bass, Barracuda, Snappers, Eels, and Spanish Mackerel, etc)
~ Avoid all visceral organ and gonad meat
(head, roe & guts - where ciguatoxin is concentrated)
~ Clean the fish as soon as possible after they are caught or purchased.
~ Avoid eating fish caught at sites known to have a ciguatoxic algae problem.
~ Remember that the ciguatoxin is not destroyed
, drying, salting, or freezing the fish.
Symptoms generally appear within 6 hours of eating the toxic fish, and include numbness and tingling, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea .The GI symptoms are followed by Myalgias (tenderness or pain within a muscle) , Arthralgias (joint pain) and Paresthesias (numbness, tingling, and hyperesthesia or increased sensitivity). Any abnormality of sensation - ie: Sensory reversal - feeling hot for cold, and cold for hot may occur. (Ever been Burned by an Ice-Cube? - That’s likely Ciguatera Poisioning!).
Dr. Lora Fleming
, a ciguatera expert at the University of Miami School
of Medicine, says problems usually begin with symptoms of classic food poisoning: diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. However, without treatment, the symptoms progress into bizarre neurological disorders. "Generally, your nerves start acting up and sending mixed information," says Fleming
. "You feel like bugs are biting your legs or your teeth hurt." In addition to confusing hot and cold, other ciguatera symptoms include pain during urination and painful sexual intercourse.
Divers - Ciguatera and Decompression Sickness (DCS)
But what can be most perplexing is that victims suffer some combination of vertigo, weakness, fatigue, numbness and tingling, which are similar to symptoms associated with decompression sickness. Plus, the symptoms of both illnesses can be delayed for up to a day, though decompression sickness usually appears within six hours of surfacing, and ciguatera usually begins 30 minutes to four hours after a meal.
To differentiate between ciguatera poisoning and DCS, look for ciguatera-specific symptoms, including diarrhea and no headache (decompression sickness is the other way around). According to Fleming, sensory problems like temperature reversal are highly indicative of ciguatera poisoning. Fleming says that because ciguatera's attack rate is nearly 100 percent, victims should look for afflicted dining buddies.
There is no specific treatment, but symptoms generally subside (untreated) in a few days. There have been some severe cases where the neurological symptoms have lasted for weeks and months. There have also been some isolated cases which have persisted for years, and other cases where symptoms have recurred months or even years later. There is a low fatality rate.
The treatment is non-specific, mainly consisting of supportive care. It is also recommended that a person suffering from ciguatera fish poisoning avoid eating fish, fish sauces, shellfish, alcohol, and nuts for several months after the incident.
Certain medications (“Mannitol”
- (which is given intravenously, and can resolve symptoms within minutes) have been reported to be helpful when started in the early phases of the illness. Other suggested, but unproven, treatments have included: Calcium Gluconate, Corticosteroids, Atropine, Vitamin B, Pyroxidine, Amitriptyline.
Mannitol treatment is 250 cc 20% Mannitol (1mg/kg).
For more information on Mannitol, GOTO: www.rehablink.com/ciguatera/treat.htm
With the exception of testing fresh uncooked fish
, with a test kit called Cigua Check
, there is no way to determine if a fish carries the toxin.
I have no information as to it’s efficacy. GOTO: http://<a href="http://www.ciguachec...acheck.com</a>
- or - http://ulua-fishing.com/ciguatera.html
Happy hunting - safe eating !!!