Yet ANOTHER Reason Not to Eat Moray Eels!

Yet ANOTHER Reason Not to Eat Moray Eels!

A dozen or more members of a fishing village in Fiji were seriously injured when they ate a moray eel.  The flesh of the eel was contaminated with a toxin called ciguatoxin and so they fell victim to the disease ciguatera. Ciguatoxin is produced by tiny organisms called dinoflagellates that are in the flesh of certain types of large reef fish like barracuda, grouper, amberjack, seabass, sturgeon, parrotfish, surgeonfish, red snapper and yes – moray eels.

The Fijian victims display classic symptoms of ciguatera poisoning – nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and a host of weird neurological problems like tingling, feeling like your teeth are loose, metallic taste in the mouth and a confusion of the senses where hot things feel cold and vice-versa. Symptoms can last for months or longer. 

The toxin is tasteless (although some people say it has a peppery taste), heating doesn’t destroy it and there is no way to know if it is in the food you are eating. Scary, huh? 

I know of an orthopedic surgery resident that contracted ciguatera poisoning and it ended his career because he couldn’t hold his surgical instruments anymore. 

Not sure why this woman looks so happy caring for her ciguatera-poisoned companion.

Restauranteurs and food preparers rely on the reputations of their fish suppliers to keep the ciguatera out of the kitchen and off the table, yet hundreds of cases are reported every year (137 cases in Florida alone from 2012-2014). Be afraid, be very afraid. 

Written by Poison Boy

Gerry O'Malley (a.k.a Poison Boy) is a board certified ER doctor and toxicologist with a interest in the unusual, terrifying and occasionally hilarious world of poisonings and toxicology. This site is an exploration of poisons of historical interest as well as in current events and pop culture.

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