Poison mack attack on Gold Coast

FISHOS on the Gold Coast are being urged to heed health warnings after a group of locals suffered severe fish poisoning after eating a freshly caught Spanish mackerel.

The Gold Coast Bulletin reports Burleigh Waters man Noel Brindley and his wife Merridy enjoyed pan-fried fillets of fresh mackerel hand-caught by their son but were soon in agony suffering gastro-like symptoms, fainting, extreme itchiness and burning sensations from cold water.

“We have been eating locally­ caught mackerel for 13 years without a problem,” said Mr Brindley.

“This took us by surprise and we have never been so sick in our entire lives.”

“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

The Brindleys and two others who ate from the same fish were diagnosed with ciguatera poisoning — a toxin found in warm ocean reef algae which is eaten by fish that in turn are eaten by larger predatory fish.

The poison is more commonly found in apex predator fish species including Spanish mackerel, reef cod, coral trout and red bass in more tropical waters such as those off North Queensland and Fiji.

Gold Coast poisoning cases are considered rare. Fishing expert Paul Burt said it was only the third notable case he had encountered in 15 years.

“It only seems to occur when people eat the larger fish,” he said.

“Mackerel are great fun to catch and lovely to eat but anyone thinking of keeping catches over 10kg are playing Russian roulette with their health.”

Queensland Health guidelines warn anglers to throw back anything over 6kg and to avoid eating the head, roe, liver or other internal organs where the toxin are concentrated.

There is no quick fix for sufferers and symptoms can be known to recur for months.

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