Centre for Health Protection investigates suspected ciguatoxin poisoning case involving 54-year-old man

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5th December 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Centre for Health Protection (CHP), a division of the Department of Health, is currently conducting an investigation into a suspected case of ciguatoxin poisoning that has affected an individual. The case involves a 54-year-old man who experienced symptoms of ciguatoxin poisoning shortly after consuming fish for dinner at his home. Symptoms included numbness of the mouth and hands, dizziness, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea. The patient sought medical attention at the Accident and Emergency Department of Tseung Kwan O Hospital the following day and was discharged against medical advice in stable condition.

Preliminary inquiries have revealed that the fish consumed was purchased from a fish stall at a market in Tseung Kwan O. Ciguatera fish poisoning is not uncommon in tropical regions and is primarily associated with the consumption of large coral reef fish that have accumulated the ciguatoxin in their bodies. This toxin is acquired through the consumption of smaller fish that have themselves ingested toxic algae in coral reef areas. Larger fish tend to carry higher amounts of the toxin, although it is challenging to determine its presence based on the fish’s appearance alone.

Individuals affected by ciguatoxin poisoning may experience symptoms such as numbness of the mouth and limbs, vomiting, diarrhoea, alternating sensations of coldness and hotness, as well as joint and muscle pain. While most people recover from ciguatoxin poisoning without long-term health effects, excessive consumption of the toxin can impact the circulatory and nervous systems. It is important to note that the toxin cannot be destroyed through cooking.

A spokesperson for the CHP emphasized the significance of this investigation, highlighting the potential health risks associated with ciguatoxin consumption. The CHP is committed to identifying the source and cause of this incident to prevent future cases and protect public health.