The Ciguata or “Ciguatera”

Discussed with colleagues of fishing on this subject: “ciguatera”, consider it necessary to give to know some information about this topic, because we don’t know when we can require this, or know the possible symptoms of involvement by ciguatera.
Ciguatera is generally believed that we find it only in the Barracuda, however it is proven that it can appear in any semi-pelagic fish, reef and pelagic fish including small fish that feed on smaller species or algae in their diet.

Of the species that we can fish and that they may be contaminated with ciguatoxin, which is the causative toxin of disease are: El dorado, Grouper, red snapper, the boquinete, barracuda, wahoo, mackerel, groupers, crossbows or ixcochines and according to some scientific writings can be found in some other species, for us, these are the main fish and must bear in mind that they may have ciguatoxin.

Another feature is that the fish are contaminated not suffer involvement or any damage, while any other being that it consumes them Yes, birds, human suffering from disease, and in our case, have been detected, we can also make you sick.We must bear in mind that the food chain part from plankton to fish semi-pelagicos. Ciguatera has its origin in a dinoflagellate microorganism.

The dinoflagellates are unicellular microorganisms and are part of the phytoplankton in the sea, these are part of the food chain, at the base, and are the food of some slightly larger organisms that feed on them (zooplankton), until you reach the end of the food chain, with the largest species, which are usually the ones we catch.

It is an affectation that usually found in tropical and subtropical areas, i.e. in areas where water keeps temperatures above 22 degrees Celsius, however there are records of ciguatera in zones colder to the North and South, and on many occasions, some people travelling carry disease to their places of origin and is very difficult to determine that you have , since there is no known disease in places other than the tropics. It is also one of the Affectations that occur often, refers to some 50,000 cases per year are registered and attended, but we must bear in mind that even and when it seems to be a very large number, which doesn’t impact on the world’s population at the time of writing this is: 6,845,146,634 according to a page that has a world population counter:.

After a period of about 8 to 12 hours of having eaten fish ciguatoxin-contaminated meat, will have the first symptoms, which include diarrhea and abdominal pain accompanied by vomiting, however this does not end there, the toxin is a neurotoxin that affects the central nervous system and causing other problems, one of the symptoms that occur is called “dysaesthesia” which is in the hands and burning skin sensation when we touch something cold, is an inversion of the thermal sensation, will give us a feeling of warmth or burns when touching cold or cold objects by touching hot objects, may be itching in various parts of the body mainly in the corner of the mouth, lips and tongue, and feeling that our lower extremities are very heavy, muscular fatigue and pain, cramps, and occasional spasms later this can be cardio-pulmonary problems.

The main symptoms and characteristic are itching in the tongue and mouth, and the wind chill investment, since the other symptoms can be associated or confused with other types of problems, even with other poisonings.

It is not a deadly disease, and is reported only a. 1% of cases in turns out them to be deadly, but nevertheless we must take precautions because neurological damage can be very long-term, and can last weeks or even months, therefore recommended immediate medical care. After having been sick it is also possible that presented relapses with the consumption of some foods, such as seafood, nuts or even meats such as chicken, egg and canned fish.

In recent times have been detected cases in colder areas and already not in the subtropics, suggesting that it could spread to other parts of the world, either by the migration of fish, or from the transfer and transport of people who have the disease after a stay in areas where it is a common disease.

Another feature of the toxin is stable in processes of freezing, cooking, high temperature or exposure to acids, as it can be when we prepare a ceviche in lemon, or when we cook or fry the fish that we intend to eat or when we freeze that fish for later consumption, the toxin is stable and is not altered and can harm us , if you consume the fish even after cooked, frozen or soaked in lemon.

There are also some beliefs that we must bear in mind that are not true: that if a piece of contaminated fish we offer a cat or dog or other animal they will not eat it, or that only occurs from June to September in the months that do not have an “r” in their name, or not will happen if we add milk to cook the fish then already nothing , or that if we add more lemon fish meat then the ciguata does not effect, all these are beliefs that are not true and that there are said. It also said that a barracuda ciguata not be ‘defends’ when we caught it, or that it may have “yellow gills” but all this is not associated with the ciguata but other diseases in fish.

The reality is to detect it is only possible through a laboratory analysis and that sometimes it is very difficult to determine whether or not a fish has the toxin, and that it can occur more easily when the water temperature is greater than 24 degrees Celsius.

It now sells a kit called “ciguachek fish poison test kit” that can be a “test” by a small sample and that allows to know with some precision if there is or not a pollution by ciguatoxin, manufactured by a company called ToxiTec Inc.

We hope that this information is useful!
Best regards.