Definition: An acute toxic syndrome with predominantly gastrointestinal and neuromuscular features induced by ingestion of the flesh or viscera of various marine fish of the Caribbean and tropic Pacific reefs that contain ciguatoxin. The lipid-soluble, heat-stable toxin is produced by the dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus, which is epiphytic on red and brown algae. Herbivorous fish foraging on reef algae consume the flagellates and are in turn consumed by carnivorous fish, the toxin becoming increasingly concentrated as it passes up the food chain. Some 400 species of fish have been associated with human intoxication. Symptoms come on 3–12 hours after exposure and include vomiting and diarrhea, myalgia, dysesthesia and paraesthesia of the extremities and perioral region, pruritus, headache, weakness, and diaphoresis. Toxic effects usually resolve spontaneously in about 1 week.
[Sp. fr. cigua, sea snail]
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