What is food poisoning?
Food poisoning (also known as food-borne illness) occurs when you eat or drink something that contains harmful germs (bacteria, viruses or parasites). Sometimes bacteria produce a toxin in food and it’s the toxin that causes the problem.
How do you get food poisoning from fish?
There are two ways to get food poisoning from eating fish:
- Ciguatera (say: “seeg-wha-terra”) poisoning: This happens when you eat a reef fish (any fish living in warm tropical water) that has eaten a certain poisonous food. This poison does not go away when the fish is cooked or frozen.
- Scombroid poisoning: A substance called histamine builds up in some fish when they get too warm after they’re caught. Histamine is a chemical that serves as a kind of alarm to let your immune system know that an infection is attacking part of the body. If you eat a fish that was not properly cooled after it was caught, you may react to the histamine that is released into your body.
Poisoning, Envenomation, and Trauma from Marine Creatures by RA Perkins, M.D., M.P.H. and SS Morgan, M.D. (American Family Physician February 15, 2004, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20040215/885.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff