Ciguatera Poisioning a�� An Overview

Ciguatera poisoning

is a food borne disease which is primarily caused by consuming specific reef fishes. These fishes are contaminated with marine toxins that are released by



Gambierdiscus toxicus

. These aquatic organisms live in the subtropical and tropical water bodies. They adhere to the seaweed, algae and corals and eaten by the herbivorous fish species. These fishes are then preyed by carnivorous fish species. This is how the toxins are passed in the food chain and finally bioaccumulate. Read on to know more about the ciguatera poisoning.

Ciguatera Poisoning a�� An Overview

The primary dinoflagellate which produces the toxins which causes ciguatera poisoning is Gambierdiscus toxicus. They release a group of similar toxins which include palytoxin, scaritoxin, maitotoxin and ciguatoxin. The highest predators in the food chain of subtropical and tropical waters are the primary fishes to cause this food poisoning. These group of fishes include amberjacks, trigger fishes, groupers, parrot fishes, moray eels, snapper and barracudas. However, there are various other species which cause a few outbreaks.


is highly resistant to heat. Therefore, any fish laden with this toxin cannot be detoxified using the normal cooking method. Historians claim that this poisoning cases caused by cold climatic conditions lead to the migratory voyages of the Polynesians during 1000 and 1400.

Frequency of Ciguatera Poisoning

United States

Most of the poisoning cases in the U.S. occur in Florida and Hawaii, but travelers may manifest symptoms after returning back to home. Sporadic cases of poisoning has been reported across the mainland due to the global marketing of fish.

International Incidence

Nearly 50,000 cases of ciguatera poisoning occur around the word every year. However, it is hard to keep a track on this poisoning and many cases go unnoticed. This poisoning is endemic in the South Pacific, the Caribbean islands and Australia. According to recent studies, there is continuous rise in the incidence of ciguatera poisoning. This disease has an economic impact on many developing countries where it is an endemic form.

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