A recent incident which resulted in the deaths of 2 Australian travellers has highlighted the danger of eating abroad. The Queensland based mother and daughter pair died after eating seafood while on holiday at a resort in Bali.
What should have been the holiday of a lifetime turned to a tragedy when a mother and daughter consumed what is believed to be toxic fish.
Indonesian authorities are investigating the incident but one expert believes that the deaths may have been as a result of Ciguatera poisoning, a rare type of poisoning.
The following is an excerpt from www.brisbanetimes.com.au explains:
Food safety consultant and microbiologist Dr Patricia Desmarchelier says it’s an unusual case, however it’s possible the pair may have died from toxic fish, including a condition known as ciguatera poisoning.
“People usually don’t die, at least in western countries, of food poisoning,” Dr Desmarchelier said.
“To have two people die so quickly like that is unusual but not necessarily impossible.
“But what it does suggest is that they have had massive doses of toxins.”
Ciguatera poisoning is contracted by eating warm water ocean finfish, like mahi mahi, that carry the ciguatera toxin produced by a tiny organism attached to algae.
Although Ciguatera is the most common type of seafood related food poisoning, compared to other types of food poisoning it is less common and very rarely do people die from it.
Ciguatera toxin is harmless to fish but poisonous to humans. The toxin is odourless and tasteless, and it is heat-resistant, so cooking does not destroy the toxin, therein lies the risk.
Symptoms of ciguatera poisoning generally begins six to eight hours after eating the contaminated fish. Some of the most common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, numbness, tingling, abdominal pain, dizziness and vertigo.
In the most severe cases of ciguatera poisoning the result may be tearing of the eyes, chills, skin rash, itching, shortness of breath, drooling and paralysis. Death can occur due to heart or respiratory failure in rare cases. We will only know the cause of the deaths of the Queensland woman and her daughter after the autopsy has been completed.
One suggestion made by the manager of the resort where the 2 were staying was that they had an allergic reaction to the fish because a number of other people also ate the same fish as them but never fell ill, including the manager himself.
Most cases of Ciguatera poisoning are not fatal especially in Australia but people should be cautious when visiting developing countries. If you begin to feel ill after eating fish, especially if you are abroad, get treatment as soon as possible.