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Ciguatera Fish Poisoning

Aquatic Toxins Program

Beware of Ciguatera Poster
Over 400 known fish species have been classified as potential ciguatoxin carriers. Examples of species associated with Florida cases include barracuda, grouper, amberjack, snapper, tuna, kingfish, eel, trevally, seabass, mackerel, hogfish, and mahi-mahi. Cooking fish does not kill the heat-stable toxin. Ciguatoxic fish do not carry a foul odor or taste.
  • Symptoms
  • Transmission
  • Additional Information

The symptoms associated with ciguatera may include: vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain or cramping, itchy skin; aching teeth, muscles, or joints; tingling sensation in the extremities, painful urination, and temperature reversal with a typical onset within 24 hours following fish consumption. Gastrointestinal symptoms typically present first, within 24 hours of exposure, followed by neurological symptoms which usually begin 1-2 days following the exposure.

Ciguatera fish poisoning is transmitted when people eat a fish which contains a marine toxin called ciguatoxin. Ciguatoxins are produced by a dinoflagellate algae called Gambierdiscus toxicus. Large reef-dwelling fish accumulate marine toxins by eating toxic algae growing on coral reefs. Toxins are found in the highest concentrations in the muscle tissue, organs, and fat of tropical or subtropical predatory reef fish. Rare secondary cases of mother-to-child transmission during breastfeeding and male-to-female sexual transmission have been reported.

Ciguatera Fish Poisoning - English (pdf<1mb, opens in new window)

Ciguatera Fish Poisoning - Spanish (pdf<1mb, opens in new window) 


Think you have Ciguatera Fish Poising?

If you suspect that you have ciguatera fish poisoning, contact your local County Health Department or the Poison Control Hotline at: 1-800-222-1222. The poison information specialists will assess your symptoms and help determine if you have ciguatera. They can also provide up-to-date treatment advice for confirmed ciguatera cases.

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