Scombroid Poisoning Overview
Scombroid poisoning typically occurs when people eat certain fish that have been inadequately preserved. These include the spiny-finned fish of the family known as Scombridae. Bacteria that grow during improper storage in the dark meat of the fish produce scombroid toxin. Scombroid is a histaminelike chemical (see Allergic Reaction). The toxin does not affect everyone who ingests it.
No test is 100% reliable for assessing fish for this toxin. Cooking kills the bacteria, but toxins remain in the tissues and can be eaten.
Susceptible fish include albacore, amberjack, anchovy, Australian salmon, bluefish, bonito, kahawai, herring, mackerel, mahi-mahi, needlefish, saury, sardine, skipjack, wahoo, and yellowfin tuna. Affected fish may have a metallic or peppery taste.
Scombroid Poisoning Symptoms
Symptoms of scombroid poisoning generally begin 10 to 90 minutes after ingestion of the poison and include:
Other symptoms may include:
Severe reactions include:
- Dropping blood pressure
- Racing heart
Scombroid Poisoning Treatment
Scombroid poisoning should be treated with diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or hydroxyzine (Vistaril) (25-50 mg every 6 hours) and 1 cimetidine (Tagamet HB) or famotidine (Pepcid) tablet twice a day.
When to Seek Medical Care
Seek immediate medical care for a severe or prolonged reaction. Consult a doctor about treatment with available medications.
Synonyms and Keywords
Wilderness: Scombroid Poisoning, albacore, amberjack, anchovy, Australian salmon, bluefish, bonito, kahawai, herring, mackerel, mahi-mahi, needlefish, saury, sardine, skipjack, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, food poisoning