Ciguatera heads south

FISHOS are again being warned to think twice about keeping large mackerel after what is believed to be the southernmost recorded outbreak of ciguatera fish poisoning.

The Northern Star reports that at Evans Head last week, staff members of a local restaurant fell ill after eating a locally caught Spanish mackerel, and ciguatera looks to be the culprit.

This case follows a confirmed outbreak on the Gold Coast last week after a Spanish mackerel caught off Palm Beach led to a number of people from one family being hospitalised.

The poisoning is caused by an accumulation up the food chain of a toxin produced by a dinoflagellate that grows on algae associated with dead coral.

The Evans Head workers had the classic skin tingling and “cold-feels-hot, hot-feels-cold” symptoms and one had serious gastrointestinal illness and was admitted to hospital for two nights.

No customers were involved, the owner said.

The 16kg fish was caught at Riordans Reef on February 12 by a licensed fisher who processed it in accordance with best practice.

Fisheries and food safety advisers recommend that people choose mackerel under 10kg whole weight.

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