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  1. #1
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    Default Eating FISH: Ciguatera: We are in a month without an "R"!

    Since I love eating fish, the many posts on this forum (search this forum for "Fish poisoning" and "Ciguatera") and warnings from other sources, have enticed me to do some added research regarding this issue.

    Now, this is not meant to be culinary, medical or legal advise! I do not guarantee below findings. Test at you own risk!

    I have spoken to older Dominicans (why older Dominicans, you may ask... because they have survived long enough to know! ) about the issue and drafted a list of consensus information, in other words what most seem to agree on or repeat:


    Basics:
    • Ciguatera is a poisoning the fish may carry over to humans if eaten. The fish does not seem to suffer from the poisoning and does not seem any different than one(s) that do(es) not carry the poisoning.
    • Not all fish species will likely carry ciguatera poisoning. It would seem that some species will seek deeper waters as temperatures raise. So there would be fish species that won't or can't do that and thus do not eat from plankton which may cause some to carry ciguatera.
    • Many seem to believe that a tongue test can reveal the presence of the toxin (licking the cleaned and fresh fish). If the toxin would be present some describe the sensation of a short numbness... some have compared it to testing cocaine. Many also indicate that flies won't dwell on fish carrying the toxin (maybe for the same effect some may feel doing the tongue (licking) test(?). In other words, if flies gather on most fish except one (assuming they are all equally fresh) the one without the flies may carry the toxin.
    List of fish that should be avoided during months without an "R" in it (May, June, July, August):
    • Chillo,
    • Colorado,
    • Carite,
    • Bonito,
    • Mero Pluma.
    Non ciguatera related: It is not recommended to eat raw seafood, especially oysters during the hot climate period. Some will even advise not to eat such food coming out of the Caribbean seas AT ALL, for it's warm sea temperatures which favor bacterias.

    List of fish that are said to be safe all year long:
    • Capitan,
    • Dorado,
    • Lisa DE AGUA DULCE,
    • Bonito DE AGUA DULCE,
    • Tilapia DE AGUA DULCE,
    • Mero blanco,
    • Mero dorado.
    • Cotorra, aka. Lora, aka, Loro.
    Warning: If you are coming from a different country of Spanish language heritage, please keep in mind that just like fruit names, the names of fish can be switched from country to country!

    I am trying to put together a data base with pictures and names of fish found in the Dominican market... if you have any pictures of Dominican fish with the matching name which would help ID species or any other relevant input to this subject, you are outmost welcome to e-mail them to me.

    I would also welcome some more comments as to how to treat the effects of ciguatera poisoning.


    Thanks! ... J-D.

  2. #2
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    Thanks JD,
    very usefull information all the time. I have thought that fish minus than 5 libras ahould be quite safe. I use a lot of mero, but always tried to find small filete. Are you saying that mero blanco in any size would be rather safe?
    What about the cat-test ?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by anitaemma View Post
    Thanks JD,
    very usefull information all the time. I have thought that fish minus than 5 libras ahould be quite safe. I use a lot of mero, but always tried to find small filete. Are you saying that mero blanco in any size would be rather safe?
    What about the cat-test ?

    Thanks for the nice comment, AnitaEmma!
    I am not saying anything, please read the disclaimer. I am merely compiling what most have told me. I am only told that Mero blanco would be safe. I believe Mero is a high sea fish(?) and may also be imported from cooler waters in frozen fillets(?), again, I may be wrong.

    As to the cat test, it may depend on how many you have and what your personal feelings towards cats in general is.

    ... J-D.

  4. #4
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    Ciguatera is mainly a problem with reef fish - fish that live on the reef and eat the reef. Deep water fish does not carry it. Other things yes, but not ciguatera to my knowledge.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by J D Sauser View Post
    [*]Many seem to believe that a tongue test can reveal the presence of the toxin (licking the cleaned and fresh fish). If the toxin would be present some describe the sensation of a short numbness... some have compared it to testing cocaine. Many also indicate that flies won't dwell on fish carrying the toxin (maybe for the same effect some may feel doing the tongue (licking) test(?). In other words, if flies gather on most fish except one (assuming they are all equally fresh) the one without the flies may carry the toxin.

    I would also welcome some more comments as to how to treat the effects of ciguatera poisoning.


    There are all sorts of tests, like rubbing on lower lip, flies, cats, etc., etc., but there is no scientific evidence they are valid. Ciguatera is a very serious illness, not one you want to make decisions about based on myths.

    One scientific fact that is helpful is to eat small fish rather than big fish. The bigger the fish, the more of the toxin it can have in its body.

    Treatment is an injection that must be given within a short period after you suspect you have ciguatera. I know that the name of this med and the time window you have to get treatment can be found on the internet because I easily found it when doing research on ciquatera for a friend from Canada who got it from eating fish in Sosua.

    You should also research the dr1 artchives since ciguatera has been the subject of threads previously.

    If you are unfortunate enough to get ciguatera, you should hope the symptoms appear while you are still in the DR. The doctors here are accustomed to treating it and are prepared to do so. The friend mentioned above, as well as her father, didn't have symptoms until they got back to Canada. By the time they found a doctor there who recognized what they had and was prepared to treat it, the time window had closed and there was no medical treatment available for them.

    One more thing, if you get ciguatera, the toxin does not leave your body. Should you eat another infected fish, your symptoms will be worse than the first time and may be fatal.

    PS: This being a global society, you can get infected fish any place. I know people in the US and Canada who got ciguatera from frozen fish bought there. Freezing and cooking do not kill the toxin.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    One scientific fact that is helpful is to eat small fish rather than big fish. The bigger the fish, the more of the toxin it can have in its body.
    ...

    Some studies seem to suggest that some bigger fish may accumulate more toxins because they eat smaller (infected) fish (food chain syndrome)... then YOU become the last big fish et voilą.

    Some suggested reading off the INTERNET:

    Enjoy! ... J-D.

  7. #7
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    My X was in the hospital for four days from eating mero,mero eat the reef fish.

  8. #8
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    And the moral of the story is, do not eat fish in the months without "R's"

  9. #9
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    "R" months have nothing to do with it. As stated previously, certain fish (such as reef dwellers-parrot fish is a good example) chew on coral on the reefs and that is where the toxin is found-year round. The more they eat the greater the chance they contain poison.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy B View Post
    "R" months have nothing to do with it. As stated previously, certain fish (such as reef dwellers-parrot fish is a good example) chew on coral on the reefs and that is where the toxin is found-year round. The more they eat the greater the chance they contain poison.
    Actually it does have to do with the "R" months.
    It is way way more prevalent during those months.

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