Lands 16-year-old in Hospital in Critical Condition

For those seafood lovers out there this article will be very important for you to read. Last month a 16-year-old boy was out fishing with his dad and after having reeled in several fish it was off to the beach for a wonderful picnic to cook and eat their catch. After eating mostly mackerel the boy, later in the night, experienced food poisoning symptoms.

According to the boy’s relative, who happens to be a nurse here on the island, it was the worst case of Ciguatera poisoning she had ever seen. He had to be flown out of the island by the emergency chopper and was on life support for 36 hours at the Belize Health Care Partners. He is now in stable condition and recovering from the serious poisoning.

Ciguatera is a food borne illness poisoning in humans caused by eating marine species whose flesh is contaminated with a toxin known as ciguatoxin, which is present in many micro-organisms living in tropical waters.

Fish such as barracudas, snapper, moray eels, parrot fishes, groupers, trigger fishes and amberjacks, are most likely to cause ciguatera poisoning, although many other species (including lobster) have been found to cause occasional outbreaks of toxicity. Ciguatoxin is very heat-resistant, so ciguatoxin-laden fish cannot be detoxified by conventional cooking.

Hallmark symptoms of ciguatera include gastrointestinal and neurological effects. Gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea usually followed by neurological symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, numbness and hallucinations. Severe cases of ciguatera can also result in cold allodynia, which is a burning sensation on contact with cold (commonly incorrectly referred to as reversal of hot/cold temperature sensation). Doctors are often at a loss to explain these symptoms and ciguatera poisoning is frequently misdiagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis.

Eating large fish such as the ones mentioned above can cause Ciguatera Poisoning. That’s why it is advised not to eat it them during the summer months. Even though these cases are rare in San Pedro, the public is asked to be careful on what they choose to eat. A family relative would like to thank Dr. Daniel and Dr. Otto as well as Mickie Hancock and the team from Coastal Express and the Island Ferry for all the help rendered during their time of need.

Ambergris Today