Health & Diving

Hazardous Marine Life

Hazardous Marine Life

Introduction

Seafood poisonings are illnesses caused by ingestion of a natural toxin present in seafood. This toxicity can be inherent to the species as is the case in fugu and other tetraodontiforms, or toxicity can result from external contamination such as shellfish poisonings or ciguatera. Many gastrointestinal issues commonly attributed to seafood poisonings are often actually the result of gastrointestinal infections caused by ingestion of harmful bacteria, parasites or viruses, and for that reason they are not included in this text.

In this chapter, we will discuss ichthyosarcotoxism, a form of food poisoning resulting from ingestion of fish flesh containing natural toxins. Ichthyosarcotoxism originates from the Greek words ichthyo (fish), sarx (flesh) and toxism (intoxication or poisoning). The three main ichthyosarcotoxisms are ciguatera, scombroid fish poisoning and tetrodotoxism. We will also cover shellfish-related intoxications. Since shellfish are bivalve mollusks and not fish, these cases cannot be called an ichthyosarcotoxism.
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