Is the fish on your plate safe?

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Updated: August 18, 2017

The Ministry of Health has issued an advisory after suspected ciguatera or fish poisoning was detected in persons that had eaten barracuda bought from a fish vendor in Ladyville. The Ministry says ciguatera poisoning is normally seen in predatory fish, mainly barracudas. However, other fish such as the coral trout, red snapper, donu, parrot fish, grouper, Spanish mackerel, red emperor, wrasse, reef cod, sturgeon fish, trevally and moray eel may also cause ciguatera poisoning. Consumers need to be aware that the toxin does not affect the appearance, odor or taste of the fish; and freezing or cooking the contaminated fish will not prevent the poisoning. Anyone who consumes fish contaminated with the ciguatera toxin will become ill. Symptoms include tingling and numbness in fingers, toes, around the lips, tongue, mouth and throat; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and/or abdominal cramps, joint pains, headache, and difficulty breathing. The gastrointestinal or stomach symptoms normally appear within 24 hours of exposure and those of the nervous system can appear one to two days later. It is important to note that most symptoms disappear after a few days and complete recovery happens after a few weeks. To prevent ciguatera poisoning, avoid eating the head, roe or fish egg, liver, or other organs of the fish as it is where the highest level of toxin is present, eat other types of fish, avoid eating large sea fish and report any suspected fish poisoning to the local Public Health Officer.