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Marine Toxins

Table of Contents


Overview

Marine toxins are chemicals and bacteria that can contaminate certain types of seafood. Eating the seafood may result in food poisoning. The seafood may look, smell, and taste normal. There are five common types of marine toxins, and they all cause different symptoms.

Food poisoning through marine toxins is rare. Marine toxin poisoning occurs most often in the summer.

Diagnosing marine toxin poisoning

Your doctor will do a medical history and a physical exam and ask you questions about your symptoms and any fish you have recently eaten. Laboratory testing is typically not needed.

Treating poisoning

There are no specific treatments for marine toxin poisoning. Treatment generally consists of managing complications and being supportive until the illness passes. Dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting is the most common complication.

To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids. Choose water and other clear liquids until you feel better. You can take frequent sips of a rehydration drink (such as Pedialyte). Soda, fruit juices, and sports drinks have too much sugar and not enough of the important electrolytes that are lost during diarrhea. These kinds of drinks should not be used to rehydrate.

When you feel like eating again, start with small amounts of food. This will help you to get enough nutrition.

Preventing poisoning

Always keep seafood refrigerated or on ice. If you have a weak immune system, you should consider not eating raw seafood.

To help avoid marine toxins:

Types of marine toxin poisoning

Cooking does not destroy the toxins in seafood, so buy your seafood from a good source.

These are the types of marine toxic poisoning.

Scombrotoxic fish poisoning

Ciguatera poisoning

Paralytic shellfish poisoning

Neurotoxic shellfish poisoning

Amnesic shellfish poisoning


Credits for Marine Toxins

Current as of: February 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine


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