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Clupeotoxin Poisoning

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Facts on Clupeotoxin Poisoning

  • Clupeotoxin poisoning occurs in humans who eat fish contaminated with the toxin.
  • This toxin (poison) occurs in plankton-eating fish, such as
    • herring,
    • anchovies,
    • bonefish,
    • slickheads,
    • tarpons, and
    • sardines.
  • These fish are found in African, Caribbean, and Indo-Pacific coastal waters.
  • Clupeotoxin is more commonly found in fish caught in the summer.
  • The toxin is concentrated in fish organs and is tasteless and odorless.
  • The identity of the toxin is unknown.
  • Toxicity does not depend on fish freshness or size.
  • The poison does not break down when the fish is cooked.

Clupeotoxin Poisoning Symptoms

  • Symptoms of clupeotoxin poisoning begin 30-60 minutes after eating contaminated fish.
  • The poisoned person may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dry mouth, a metallic taste, headache, sweats, chills, dizziness, and elevated heart and respiratory rate.
  • The lips, fingers, nose, and toes may become blue tinged.
  • The poisoned person may become very lightheaded, and the person’s blood pressure may drop.
  • Death occurs in about 50% of people poisoned by clupeotoxin.

Clupeotoxin Poisoning Treatment

  • Vomiting should be induced if the poisoned person is awake and alert and has eaten the fish within the last 3 hours.
  • Maintain hydration. Intravenous fluids may be necessary for uncontrollable nausea and vomiting.
  • No specific antidote is available.

When to Seek Medical Care for Clupeotoxin

Seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

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Reviewed on 11/20/2017
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