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Symptoms and Signs of Scombroid Poisoning

Doctor's Notes on Scombroid Poisoning

Scombroid poisoning is sometimes referred to as fish poisoning or histamine toxicity. It is caused by eating contaminated food (mainly fish). In scombroid poisoning, bacteria that have grown during improper storage of the fish produce cause increased levels of the chemical histamine to develop. Scombroid poisoning does not affect everyone who ingests the contaminated food. Many different fish types have been implicated in scombroid poisoning and it is typically reported in dark-fleshed fish.

Signs and symptoms associated with scombroid poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, flushing, and headache. Other symptoms can include fever, itching, fainting, blurred vision, wheezing or difficulty breathing, and a burning sensation in the mouth. The symptoms can be mild or severe and may last from a few hours to a day or more.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 4/8/2019

Scombroid Poisoning Symptoms

Symptoms of scombroid poisoning generally begin quickly, about 30 minutes to 1 hour after ingestion of the poison and include:

Other symptoms may include:

  • itching,
  • hives,
  • a burning sensation in the mouth,
  • fever,
  • or an unusual heart pounding sensation.

Severe reactions include dropping blood pressure, racing heart, and wheezing.

Symptoms usually last about three hours, but some people experience discomfort for a few days.

Uncommon and Common Food-Poisoning Dangers in Pictures Slideshow

Uncommon and Common Food-Poisoning Dangers in Pictures Slideshow

Listeria bacteria can contaminate fresh produce, like cantaloupes, as well as some processed foods, like cheeses. Symptoms of infection include fever, muscle aches, upset stomach, or diarrhea -- occurring 2 days to 2 months after exposure.

Safety: Scrub raw produce and dry before cutting. Store in fridge below 40 F. Clean everything in contact with a whole melon.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.