Ciguatera is a food borne illness, acquired from ingestion of predatory reef fish that are tainted with Gambierdiscus Toxicus. This is acquired when small fish eat algae and the predatory reef fish eat the smaller fish. The larger fish are then eaten by humans, who ingest the accumulation of toxins from the algae. These toxins are found in the flesh of the fish and cannot be destroyed or rendered inactive by cooking and there is not a test to indicate the substance is in the fish.
Symptoms of Ciguatera poisoning include GI problems such as nausea and diarrhea and generally begin the same day the fish is eaten. Over the next few days the toxins can cause leg and muscle weakness, which may progress to respiratory collapse and death. Usually, the patient recovers fully, within a few weeks.
The outbreak in St. Louis is traced to two restaurants and all cases ate a fish called Amberjack. Both restaurants purchased the tainted fish from the same supplier, who received the shipment from Louisiana.
In total, there are 10 cases reported, with no fatalities. The USA has a total of approx. 30 cases per year of ciguatera, so this represents a large number of cases.
Ciguatera poisoning is the most common food borne/fish related illness worldwide and is commonly found in the Caribbean. A few other food borne illnesses include scromboid and Fugu/puffer fish poisoning. Learn more about ciguatera and other food borne illnesses here at adventuredoc.org