Belmopan- The Ministry of Health informs that suspected fish poisoning (Ciguatera poisoning) was detected in persons that had eaten fish bought from a fish vendor in Ladyville, Belize District. Further investigation into these cases has linked and identified that the fish consumed was barracuda.
Consumers are warned that 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. It is key to note that this 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.
Individuals who consume any fish that contains the toxin can experience many symptoms including tingling and numbness in fingers, toes, around 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.
The Ministry of Health says it is important to note that most symptoms disappear after a few days and complete recovery happens after a few weeks.
Some measures to avoid contracting the illness include eating large sea fish, but also avoid eating the head, roe or fish egg, liver, or other organs of the fish, as these contain the largest amount of toxins and avoid eating fish over 11 pounds in weight. The Ministry informs that ciguatera often occur in larger scale fish.