Symptoms and Signs of Scombroid Poisoning

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 4/8/2019

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.


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