St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Letter to the editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message
 

FDA warns of illness from tainted fish in Gulf of Mexico

Associated Press
Published February 6, 2008


ADVERTISEMENT

WASHINGTON - Several outbreaks of ciguatera fish poisoning have been confirmed in consumers who ate fish harvested in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico off Texas, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

The FDA said that fish such as grouper, snapper, amberjack and barracuda represent the most significant threat to consumers. They feed on fish that have eaten toxic marine algae. The toxin does not harm the fish. But larger carnivores have higher concentrations of the toxin in their tissues. As a result, the greatest risk of poisoning for humans comes from the largest fish.

Symptoms of ciguatera poisoning include nausea, vomiting, vertigo and joint pain. In the most serious cases, neurological problems can last for months or even years. Several outbreaks of the illness were confirmed in Washington and St. Louis, the FDA said. Overall, there have been at least 28 reported cases, with the first reported in late November.

The outbreak should not affect seafood caught off west-central Florida. Ciguatera has never occurred in the eastern gulf, except for a few rare cases near the Dry Tortugas, said Bob Jones, executive director of the Southeastern Fisheries Association.

Almost all commercial grouper is caught off Florida, with only minor amounts harvested in Texas. Red snapper can come from the northwestern gulf but is usually shipped to "Colorado, New York and other places where people will pay the high prices," Jones said.

The fish linked to the illnesses were harvested near the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the northwestern gulf, and the FDA recommends that processors not purchase fish harvested near there.

Consumers who think they may have ciguatera poisoning should call a doctor or local health department.

Times staff writer Stephen Nohlgren contributed to this report.

[Last modified February 6, 2008, 00:41:01]


Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT