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Ciguatera fish poisoning in the Caribbean islands and Western Atlantic.

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Laboratoire de Microbiologie Alimentaire, Universite de Caen, Esplanade de la Paix, 14032 Caen Cedex, France.


Ciguatera fish poisoning (ciguatera), a common poisoning caused by fish ingestion, is reviewed in the Western Atlantic and the Caribbean waters. It is endemic from Florida coasts (northern limit) to Martinique Island (southern limit), with outbreaks occurring from time to time. In the Caribbean, ciguatera causes a polymorphic syndrome with gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and neurological signs and symptoms. Neurological and muscular dysfunctions can be treated by intravenous injection of D-mannitol. The lipid-soluble toxins involved are ciguatoxins that are likely produced by the dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus. G. toxicus strains are endemic in the Caribbean Sea and in theWestern Atlantic. Although it is likely that blooms of G. toxicus are ingested by herbivorous fishes, they are not implicated in ciguatera in the Caribbean. Rather, large carnivores (barracudas, jacks, snappers, groupers), consumers of smaller benthic fish, are often involved in ciguatera. Fish toxicity depends on fishing area and depth, fish size and tissues, and climatic disturbances. Ciguatoxins have been isolated and purified from Caribbean fish species. The structure of two epimers, C-CTX-1 and C-CTX-2 from horse-eye jack, comprise 14 trans-fused ether-linked rings and a hemiketal in terminal ring. Caribbean ciguatoxins are mainly detected in the laboratory by chicken, mouse, mosquito, or cell bioassays, and by analytical HPLC/tandem mass spectrometry down to parts per billion (ppb). A ciguatera management plan that integrates epidemiology, treatment, and a simple method of detection is required to ensure the protection of consumers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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