There are currently a few cases of fish poisoning in the Northern Division and information gathered was that the victims had consumed Ogo or Common Barracuda.
Ciguatera Fish Poisoning is the most common seafood illness and is caused by eating fish contaminated with ciguatoxins which are produced by dinoflagellates – small marine organisms living on or near coral reefs – belonging to the species Gambierdiscus toxicus.
Herbivorous fish feed on these organisms and the ciguatoxins bio-accumulate along the marine food chain to larger predatory fish.
Ciguatera Fish Poisoning commonly occurs in tropical and subtropical areas, particularly in the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea.
Any reef fish can cause ciguatera poisoning, but species such as barracuda, grouper, red snapper, moray eel and coral trout are the most commonly affected.
Ciguatoxins are concentrated in the fish liver, intestines, heads, and roe. The toxins do not affect the taste, texture, or odour of the fish and cannot be destroyed by cooking, smoking, freezing, salting or any other method of food preparation.
Not all fish of a given species or from a given area will be toxic.
Usually symptoms appear 2 to 3 hours after consuming contaminated fish. The most common signs are numbness in fingers, toes, lips and mouth as well as burning sensation on contact with cold water.
The illness is also characterized by abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
Ciguatera poisoning mostly occur in areas which has rapid increase of algae in the water system, recent habitat degradation through developments, nutrient enrichment through land run-off and high oil spills mostly near jetties.
The ministry is asking consumers to be responsible this festive season and make responsible decisions when buying and consuming fish.