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#36021 03/13/01 06:53 PM
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 2,090
Debbie Offline OP
OP Offline
I just read a current article on some kind of fish poisoning called ciguatera. It's found only in reef fish and is prevalent in Puerto Rico and the Vigin Islands. It works it's way up the food chain, and is found in large reef fish, with barracuda being the most common. If you eat fish with this, it can make you very, very sick. There is now a medication available for this sickness, but this article stated that it's not available in many places yet, and specifically mentioned Belize. Has anyone heard anything more on this?? Does Green Reef have any information regarding testing the fish? Is Barracuda eaten a lot? Lan or Marty????

#36022 03/13/01 07:15 PM
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 8,868
Ciguatera "Cig", is common thruout the tropical waters of the world and tends to concentrate in the upper levels of the food chain, hence fish like barracuda can have higher levels. It's generally wise to avoid eating large barracuda that have been collecting cig for a longer time. Doesn't seem to be a problem here in Belize however. Once a person has had a reaction to cig they have a life-long sensitivity to it.
Here's more info:

[This message has been edited by Jesse (edited 03-13-2001).]

#36023 03/13/01 07:24 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 74
Edd Offline
This toxin occurs throughout the world, but mostly on portions of reef systems that also have siltation problems. I've never heard of this being a problem in Belize. Most of the problems also occur in late summer, when algae is at its peak.

#36024 03/13/01 08:59 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 139
This toxin in fish has been around for ages. While here in Florida we would never ever eat a barracuda , however in Belize we eat them all the time.
Our local guys tell us that you must watch for the barra that the scales fall off of.(Right)LOL
Unfortunately we do know of one person in the Placencia region who did suffer a poisioning. Very serious health problems can develop if you digest an infected fish.
Would just forget that you ever heard about this little tidbit of information if I was you.

#36025 03/13/01 09:02 PM
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 2,090
Debbie Offline OP
OP Offline
Thanks guys!! This is good information. Glad to hear this isn't a problem in Belize. Would hate to have to tell my husband to throw back a prize....

#36026 03/13/01 09:51 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 1,657
Thanks for this Debbie
Have heard of it before. Didn't know however there would be a difference between barr in Florida and barr in Belize. (any big any area)
Whats that about Kcbc?
I know it's nasty but hey,look the other way, eat, as always and enjoy as you can. Anyone, can go for any reason, at any time.
Live and be happy when you can!

#36027 03/14/01 12:59 AM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 318
I hate to disagree with EDD but it can be a problem around here in my experience. We have a rule with barracudas...If they die fast in the boat...don't eat them. Most of my friends including myself won't eat barras in any case. You can get sick on them. Unfortuantly they are the easiest fish to catch. We catch and release. Hell, the fun is the fight anyway.

#36028 03/14/01 01:06 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392
Here's what I have gathered....

Subject: Fish Poisoning Treatment

Hello List
Came across the first ever effective treatment for Ciguatera
Poisoning and
thought that it could be of great benefit to all fish eating
visitors and sailors. This report is by Carlos Perez, MD,
Patricia Vasquez,
MD, Celia Perret, MD, Hospital Clinico Universidad Catolica
de Chile, in
Santiago. It appears in New England Journal Of Medicine,
March 1, 2001.
Ciguatera poisoning is caused by the Dinoflagelate
Gambierdiscus toxicus, the
toxin is absorbed by the smaller herbivorous fish on the
reefs, and magnified
biologically in the tissues of the larger carnivorous fish
like Barracuda,
King Fish, Jack, Snapper, Grouper, Rock Fish etc. The
Ciguatoxin is a
Neurotoxin and can range from just mild abdominal cramps and
diarrhea to
dehydration, shock, severe pain, hot cold flashes, numbness,
failure and death. Until now all that was done was to treat
symptoms and hope
for the best.
The Drug used here is Gabapentin, in the US its NEURONTIN
100mg, 300mg,
400mg. This medication is used to treat partial Seizures and
various types of
painful nerve conditions like Diabetic Neuropathy etc. Any
way as the study
reports if has been very successful in totally reversing
symptoms over a
period of 2-3 weeks. They report the incidence to be about
50- 500 cases per
10,000 population in the Caribbean and South Pacific
On another note I would expect this to increase as the
demand for food by and
ever increasing population through out the Islands makes
impossible to throw
any thing back. As a kid growing up on Roatan I was warned
about the
devastating danger of eating a beautiful Barracuda that I
might have caught,
my dear mother God bless her soul, had lost all of her teeth
to Amber Jack in
Utila Keys and would not let us eat any lage fish before
placing a piece in
Ant's nest. If the ant's ate the fish and lived it was good
so went the tale.
I have some serious doubts about the validity of this test
today, but I'm
still here. Another test was to feed it first to your Cat,
or Dog. Needless
to say no one worried about the SPCA. Lastly, a fisherman
from west told be
the best test was to feed it first to your Wife.
Well, along with the Antimalarials, Antidiarrheals,
Antibacterials, etc, etc,
I think some tablets of Neurontin might be a good investment
for the Next
Trip South.

As far as I know, the only treatment for Ciguatera ever
studied using a
double blind clinical trial has been IV Mannitol (1 g/kg)
for Acute
Ciguatera (Bagnis et al "Efficacite du Mannitol dans le
Traitement dela
Ciguatera. Bulletin de la Societe de Pathologie Exotique.
1992;68-73). We
have shown that there is limited effectiveness of IV
Mannitol after 3 days
from first symptoms ----- although if used within the first
3 days, it is
highly effective in not only decreasing the acute symptoms
but also in
preventing the very debilitating Chronic Ciguatera (Blythe
D, et al Mannitol
Treatment for Acute and Chronic Ciguatera fish Poisoning.
Queensland Museum 1994;34:465-470.).

As you probably know, a multitude of medications have been
tried to treat
especially Chronic Ciguatera -- steroids, vitamins, and
anti-histamines have
NOT been shown to work ---- more recently, there have been
case reports of
individuals responding to tricyclic anti-depressants, Prozac
and similar
medications, non steroidal anti inflammatories, and calcium
channel blockers
----- however, I know of no published double blinded
clinical trials for
these interventions, only anecdotal case reports concerning
the use of these

We also recommend avoiding consumption of alcohol, caffeine,
chocolate, and all types of fish in persons with chronic
ciguatera based on
anecdotal reports of many patients that these substances can
make the
paresthesias return or increase. In the Caribbean we
recommend avoiding the
consumption of large reef fish, particularly fillets (since
you don't always
know what you are eating), and if consuming reef fish, of a
size such that
the entire fish fits on your plate (based on historical data
for example
that 50% of local barracuda over 20 lbs were ciguatoxic many
years ago). Of
note, baracuda cannot be sold legally in Miami-Dade County,
probably based
on these historical data.

We have a recent review that might be of interest:

Blythe DG, Hack E, Washington G, Fleming LE. The Medical
Management of
Seafood Poisoning. Hui, Kits, Stanfield. Seafood and
Environmental Toxins.
Marcel Dekker, 2000, pg. 311-319.

best regards

Lora E Fleming MD PhD
Associate Professor
NIEHS Marine and Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center
University of Miami School of Medicine
Dept of Epidemiology & Public Health
PO Box 016069 (R-669)
Miami, FL
tel 305-243-5912
FAX 305-243-3384
email: [email protected]

#36029 03/14/01 01:46 AM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 74
Edd Offline
No argument here. The next cuda I eat will be my first! But, why would ANYONE eat a cuda in the first place? AC has an abundance of fish that make excellent table fare, so why even take a chance on baracuda? Frankly, the same can be said of Kingfish, that many people like, but often contain unacceptable levels of mercury, particularly concentrated in the dark lateral line. My rule of thumb is to NEVER order "Mystery Fish", particularly in a part of the world that has such easy access to so many fish species that pose no potential problems or risks. I didn't mean to suggest that the toxin wasn't a potential problem in Belize. Rather, I don't see it as being any more of a problem than anywhere else. This isn't a new issue, but it is one that might unnecessarily frighten tourists, particularly those that don't live near the ocean.

#36030 03/14/01 02:21 AM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 318
I hear you brother. 'Nuff respect. I too am sensitive to the tourists view. We watch their back.

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