Holiday Illness Claims
On holiday illness claims benefits

Fish and Food Poisoning Abroad

Most holidaymakers jetting off to the sun imagine food poisoning to be an illness that is caused by infected meat.

However fish poisoning especially abroad where waters may be polluted is an underestimated cause of sickness which can leave victims with terrible symptoms lasting a lifetime.

Simpson Millar Solicitors are food poisoning compensation claims specialists and assist clients whose holidays have been spoilt by illness and sickness at hotels abroad.

Freephone: 0808 145 1353 or drop us a line using the form above

Causes of Fish Poisoning Abroad

Typical cases of food poisoning involving seafood and holidaymakers falling ill abroad concern shellfish such as oysters (which are consumed raw), prawns, crabs and mussels.

The water that shellfish live in is an important determining factor, whether freshwater or seawater.

Fish and shellfish live on algae and seaweed. The algae and seaweed can be contaminated by bacterium which then is consumed by the shellfish or fish.

Bacteria is often found in waters where raw sewage is pumped. Many hotels in destinations such as Egypt flush raw sewage straight into the sea.

Causes of fish food poisoning are not limited to bacterium but also include parasites, toxins and viruses.

Types of Fish Poisoning

There are 2 main types of fish food poisoning that affect holidaymakers abroad:

Scombroid Fish Food Poisoning

Poisoning can occur when decaying fish is consumed.

Fish should be refrigerated straight away as it releases histamine when it starts to become warm as part of the instant decaying process which leads to a toxic reaction which when ingested will affect the person.

Tuna, sardines, anchovies and mackerel are fish that carry the toxin and warm climates found in exotic holiday destinations such as the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico offer the perfect heat for fast decay.

The symptoms are similar to an allergic reaction and therefore are often confused. These symptoms usually present as:

  • Sickness with stomach pains
  • Dizzy spells and headaches
  • A rapid heartbeat and sweating
  • A flushed face and burning sensation in the mouth

These symptoms subsequently lead to:

  • Diarrhoea and stomach cramping
  • Hives and swelling
  • Blurred vision
  • Breathing difficulties

Ciguatera Fish Food Poisoning

Poisoning happens when fish and shellfish containing toxins produced by coral, seaweed and algae are consumed which then release the toxins once ingested.

The toxin is produced by tiny organisms.

Ciguatera food poisoning is mainly associated with shellfish that are harvested from tropical waters but can move up the food chain when, for example, small fish that live off seaweed and algae are themselves eaten by larger fish.

Sea Bass and Red Snapper are two well know larger fish that potentially carry the toxin.

There is no cure for Ciguatera poisoning.

Symptoms of this form of food poisoning are severe attacking the digestive system and then the neurological and cardiovascular systems appearing within twelve hours of contaminated fish being eaten.

Ciguatera food poisoning symptoms present in stages the first stage symptoms are:

  • Sickness with stomach pains
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting

These symptoms reside after several days of attacking the digestive system before progressing to strike at the neurological system causing the infected person to suffer (although neurological symptoms may appear within a short time eg as quick as a few hours after consuming the infected food):

Holiday Hotel Watch
  • Confusion and dizzy spells
  • Hallucinations and headaches
  • A loss of balance and inability to coordinate movement
  • Toothache which may feel as though teeth are loose
  • Aching bodily joints and muscles

An infected person may also experience cardiovascular symptoms which present as:

  • High blood pressure and a slow heart rate
  • A stiff neck and sweating

Fish Food Fact

Some fish such as Marlin and Swordfish contain mercury and therefore people are advised to limit their consumption to a single weekly portion.

Safeguarding Against Fish Food Poisoning

There are very simple food handling and hygiene rules to be followed to reduce the risk of poisoning. Some basic rules are:

  • Chill or freeze fish as soon after it is caught as possible as fish decays very quickly releasing toxins and allowing bacteria to flourish
  • Avoid cross-contamination by keeping and storing fresh fish away from cooked fish
  • Ensure all fish and shellfish is cooked thoroughly to kill bacteria and parasites
  • Never store fish and especially shellfish in water
  • Wash hands immediately after handling raw fish

Be aware that seafood which is consumed raw, for example mussels and oysters, are high risk foods and you are at a significantly increased risk of poisoning.

Causes of Food Poisoning Infection by Fish

There are four primary categories that the causes can be split into.

  • Parasites - Similar to tapeworms they find their way into the gut through infected food and then set about attacking the stomach wall and lining
  • Bacteria - E coli is perhaps the most familiar. Bacteria is found in shellfish harvested in waters polluted by human sewage
  • Toxins - There are many toxins. Some exist on seafood when it is consumed whilst others are released after consumption
  • Viruses - The norovirus is transmissible through contaminated water, food and infected people. The most common foods associated to norovirus are salads and shellfish which has not been heated sufficiently.

Have You Been the Victim of Fish Poisoning?

Did you suffer from illness on holiday caused by decaying or contaminated fish or shellfish served at your resort hotel?

Simpson Millar specialise in pursuing food poisoning compensation and can claim substantial compensation for you or any member of your family who has had an illness abroad on holiday caused by Scombroid or Ciguatera poisoning.