Cross-reactivity and masqueraders in seafood reactions

Allergy Asthma Proc. Nov-Dec 2013;34(6):497-503. doi: 10.2500/aap.2013.34.3701.


Confounding variables play a significant role in many adverse seafood reactions and a clear understanding of these factors is important in properly characterizing reactions associated with potential masqueraders and mimics. Although the medical literature is replete with reviews of seafood hypersensitivity and reports of cross-reactive and newly characterized allergens, there has not been a recent effort to provide an updated overview of the several processes that may lead clinicians to draw incorrect conclusions in evaluating reported reactions to seafood. Ranging from seafood intoxications to other nonallergic or complex seafood reactions, these events can easily be misconstrued as representing a seafood IgE-mediated allergy. Among these are the more familiar topics of cross-reactivity and scombroid intoxication, and those with a still evolving understanding such as ciguatera fish poisoning and Anisakis reactions. This article seeks to provide an accessible but comprehensive summary of the relevant information surrounding these confounders in assessing adverse reactions to seafood. Such knowledge may be instrumental in unraveling complex or otherwise unclear presentations and aid clinicians in accurately evaluating and managing patients with reported seafood reactions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Anisakis
  • Antigens, Helminth / immunology
  • Cross Reactions*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Errors / prevention & control
  • Fishes
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Foodborne Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin E / metabolism
  • Seafood / adverse effects


  • Allergens
  • Antigens, Helminth
  • Immunoglobulin E