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CHP investigates suspected ciguatoxin poisoning case
     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (March 28) investigating a suspected ciguatoxin poisoning case affecting two persons.

     The case involved a 61-year-old man and a 64-year-old man. They developed symptoms of ciguatoxin poisoning including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, dizziness, limb numbness, nausea and rash about three to nine hours after consuming fish for dinner at their workplace on March 24. The 61-year-old man attended the Accident and Emergency Department of United Christian Hospital today and was diagnosed to be suffering from ciguatoxin poisoning. He has been discharged and is in stable condition.

     Initial enquiries revealed that the fish consumed was bought from a fish stall in Aberdeen on March 24.

     Ciguatera fish poisoning is not uncommon in tropical areas. It is mainly associated with the consumption of large coral reef fish which have accumulated the toxin in the body, particularly in internal organs, through eating small fish that consumed toxic algae in coral reef seas.

     A larger fish is therefore more likely to carry higher amounts of the toxin. However, it is not easy to tell from the appearance of the fish whether it contains the toxin.

     People affected may have symptoms of numbness of the mouth and limbs, vomiting, diarrhoea, alternating sensations of coldness and hotness, and pain in their joints and muscles.

     "Most people affected by ciguatoxin will recover without long-term health effects, but if excessive toxins are consumed, the circulatory and nervous systems can be affected. The toxin cannot be destroyed by cooking," a spokesman for the CHP said.

     To prevent ciguatera fish poisoning, the public should:
  • Eat less coral reef fish;
  • Eat small amounts of coral reef fish at any meal and avoid having a whole fish feast in which all dishes come from the same large coral reef fish;
  • Avoid eating the head, skin, intestines and roe of coral reef fish, which usually have a higher concentration of toxins;
  • When eating coral reef fish, avoid consuming alcohol, peanuts or beans as they may aggravate ciguatoxin poisoning;
  • Seek medical treatment immediately should symptoms of ciguatoxin fish poisoning appear; and
  • Coral reef fish should be purchased from reputable and licensed seafood shops. Do not buy the fish when the source is in doubt.

Ends/Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Issued at HKT 18:45
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