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What is Scombroid Fish Poisoning?

We don’t hear much about this type of food poisoning, so what is it? Firstly it causes similar symptoms to an allergic reaction, and is rarely fatal. It is caused by a build-up of histidine in certain types of fish. It mostly associated with mackerel, tuna, marlin and bonito. However the Centre for Dieses Control and Prevention has also identified other fish like Mahi Mahi to be involved.

Symptoms develop suddenly, within 10 minutes to two hours of eating contaminated food, and usually resolve themselves within 12 hours.

The symptoms are similar to what a person would suffer if they were allergic to a food. Facial flushing/sweating, burning-peppery taste sensations in the mouth and throat, dizziness, nausea and headache are all common. People my also suffer stomach cramps, diarrheoa, in severe cases blurred vision and swelling of the tongue may occur.

After being caught, bacteria within the fish begin to convert histidine to histamine and can occur rapidly if fish is not properly chilled. This is what causes the person to become unwell. It is not the consumption of a harmful bacteria or virus. Freezing or cooking the fish once it has been contaminated will not prevent illness.

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