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Seafood Poisoning Is on the Rise

By Lisa Angotti     Apr 2, 2007 in Health
When our coral reefs are sick, we get sick.
Within hours of eating hot barracuda soup last August, six members of a family in the Philippines within six hours fell deathly ill. Twenty-four others in the same neighborhood also fell ill. The symptoms included numbness all over the body, weakened legs, and some couldn't even open their mouths.
"I was scared. I really thought I was going to die," said 21-year-old Dabby Roa.
The culprit was ciguatera poisoning, a growing problem that at least 50,000 people each year suffer from after eating exotic fish. Although most cases go unreported, the numbers are growing, scientists say, because of the damage global warming is doing to coral reefs where the fish feed.
Fish including grouper and barracuda live off the reefs where they accumulate toxic chemicals in their bodies from eating smaller fish that feed off of poisoned reef algae.
"Worldwide, we have a much bigger problem with toxins from algae in seafood than we had 20 or 30 years ago," said Donald M. Anderson, director of the Coastal Ocean Institute at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
"We have more toxins, more species of algae producing the toxins and more areas affected around the world,"
he said.
Fish poisonings have been common since ancient times, with reference to it in Homer's Odyssey and other works. Today, the poisonings are most common in Texas, Hawaii and Florida.
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