Ciguatera fish poisoning is a type of food poisoning people get by eating fish that contain ciguatoxins.
Ciguatoxins are natural toxins made by algae. The fish that cause ciguatera fish poisoning get the ciguatoxins by eating smaller fish that eat the algae.
The bigger the fish, the more ciguatoxin it contains. The highest levels of ciguatoxin are usually found in large, predatory reef fish. This includes barracuda, grouper, amberjack, snapper and mackerel. Fish with ciguatoxins do not look, smell or taste differently from fish without ciguatoxins.
Always ask what kind of fish you are buying. You can avoid getting ciguatera fish poisoning by not eating large tropical reef fish. Eating smaller fish decreases your risk. Even a small amount of a large fish can make you sick.
People with ciguatera fish poisoning usually have a mix of symptoms, including:
There is no specific treatment for ciguatera poisoning, but your health care provider may be able to treat your symptoms.
If you think you may have ciguatera poisoning, call the New York City Poison Control Center at 800-212-POISONS (800-222-1222). To report a case of ciguatera fish poisoning, call 311.