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Neurology. 2005 Dec 13;65(11):1788-91.

Captain Cook on poison fish.

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  • 1Swedish Epilepsy Center, Seattle, WA 98122, USA.


On his second voyage of discovery, Captain James Cook charted much of the South Pacific. The journey was long, from 1772 to 1775. During the exploration, the geographic, ethnographic, and scientific variety provided no shortage of work for the accompanying naturalists, astronomers, navigators, and painters. Culinary discoveries included new species of fish, many of which were sketched, dressed, and ultimately eaten. The examined journals and correspondence document clinical poisonings after ingestion of two different species of fish. The clinical findings are described and likely represent ciguatera and tetrodotoxin poisonings. Mechanisms of these toxin's actions are discussed in light of more recent studies.

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