Wilderness: Scombroid Poisoning

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 1 hour after ingestion of the poison and include:

Other symptoms may include:

Severe reactions include:

Scombroid Poisoning Treatment

Scombroid poisoning should be treated with diphenhydramine (Benadryl) 25-50 mg every 6 hours and 1 ranitidine (Zantac) 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

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on March 10, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Scombroid Poisoning from eMedicineHealth

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Scombroid Poisoning

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Seafood Information and Resources

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