Sydney: Human beings are being poisoned by consumption of many reef fish whose flesh is contaminated with toxins, an Australian study says. The illness called ciguatera leads to painful and debilitating effects on our nervous system, stomach and heart lasting for months.A team of international marine scientists has reported a 60 percent increase in the incidence of cases of Ciguatera poisoning among people inhabiting Pacific Island nations.The ciguatera toxin may be found in large reef fish, most commonly barracuda, grouper, red snapper, eel, amberjack, sea bass, and Spanish mackerel.Toxins produced by some microscopic algae known to cause harmful algal blooms, are found in reef fish, which poison humans who consume them, the journal Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Disease reports.Researchers investigating the medical records of Pacific Island countries have estimated that Ciguatera fish poisoning could have affected as many as half a million people over the past 35 years, making it a much more serious public health issue than previously thought.
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