Don't eat the barracuda, especially in August and September when levels may be the highest. What levels? Toxins, made by small dinoflagellates (Ciguatera) living under algae growing on a reef, accumulate in the fish that eat the algae. Ciguatoxins don't affect the fish. Those fish, when eaten by bigger fish and bigger fish again, concentrate the minute quantities of toxins to the point that the large predator fish including red snapper, grouper, jack and barracuda (among a group of 400 species across the world) often are an illness waiting to happen, disguised as a gourmet meal. This illness often, but not always, has an explosive onset with diarrhea and vomiting, and even more insidious is the chronic illness that set in for those unable to naturally eliminate the toxin.
More than 1,000,000 cases of Ciguatera Seafood Poisoning occur annually worldwide, especially in areas around Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Australia, Indonesia and Micronesia. Recent years have seen a large increase in South Florida. A map of the tropics is a map of Ciguatera. Just as in Pfiesteria cases, the illness has political and economic consequences. Ads promoting tourism in St. Thomas don't say, "come on a cruise, eat local fish, get sick and stay sick for years".
But it does happen and it is now happening more often, as tropical reefs around the world are attacked with silt, alien algae, pollution and chemical killers including pesticides, hydrocarbons and heavy metals (see chapter 3, Desperation Medicine).
If you are lucky enough to recover from Ciguatera after eating a poisoned fish, take the VCS test anyway. Like with Pfiesteria, a low level, chronic illness frequently occurs in which itching, fast heart rate, headache, nausea, fatigue and funny numbness may become a chronic problem. If you are unlucky and the illness sets in with its full force, don't expect the medical profession to be able to help you. Blood tests, MRI and EMG studies will be normal, as will the UGI series and GB sonogram. Even if diagnosed, prior to our protocol, there has been no effective treatment.
If you develop a metallic taste or reversal of hot and cold sensation, your astute Family Practice physician may recognize the possibility of chronic ciguatera. Take the VCS test; it is the first step to return to normal health. Treatment may be prolonged, however, as Ciguatera frequently requires more time to reach cure than its cousin, Pfiesteria.
You might not have any dramatic symptoms with ciguatera at first, but feel bad after you drink alcohol, eat something sweet, or curiously, after eating fish (a sign of sensitization or an adverse reaction to even minute quantities of the toxins). Women may especially notice their symptoms before menses. Take the VCS test and begin our treatment protocol to start you on your way to recovery from an environmentally acquired, chronic, toxin-mediated illness.
To take the VCS test mentioned above go to: www.chronicneurotoxins.com/registration/index.cfm
My thanks to Dr. R. Shoemaker for the material listed above.