Scombroid fish poisoning – experts respond

AusSMC: Following reports linking scombroid fish poisoning to the deaths of Queenslanders Noelene Bischoff, 54, and her 14-year-old daughter Yvana in Bali, the following information has been collected from experts by the Australian Science Media Centre.

The Food Safety Information Council has provided the following information about scombroid (histamine) fish poisoning:

“Histamine poisoning has similar symptoms to Ciguatera poisoning and can also result from the consumption of fish. The common symptoms of histamine poisoning are burning around the mouth, facial flushing and diarrhoea. In serious cases, histamine poisoning can be treated with anti-histamines.

Histamine poisoning is caused by a build-up of histadine in certain types of fish. Histamine poisoning usually occurs in certain species of fish. Scombroid fish include mackerel, tuna, bonito, sardines, marlin and butterfly kingfish. There are other fish that have also been associated with histamine poisoning.

After being caught, bacteria within the fish begin to convert histadine to histamine. This can occur rapidly if fish is not chilled properly. Freezing or cooking the fish once it has been contaminated will not kill the toxin and prevent illness. Therefore, chilling the fish as soon as possible is important to prevent contamination by histamine.”