An Updated Review of Ciguatera Fish Poisoning: Clinical, Epidemiological, Environmental, and Public Health Management

Mar Drugs. 2017 Mar 14;15(3):72. doi: 10.3390/md15030072.


Ciguatera Fish Poisoning (CFP) is the most frequently reported seafood-toxin illness in the world. It causes substantial human health, social, and economic impacts. The illness produces a complex array of gastrointestinal, neurological and neuropsychological, and cardiovascular symptoms, which may last days, weeks, or months. This paper is a general review of CFP including the human health effects of exposure to ciguatoxins (CTXs), diagnosis, human pathophysiology of CFP, treatment, detection of CTXs in fish, epidemiology of the illness, global dimensions, prevention, future directions, and recommendations for clinicians and patients. It updates and expands upon the previous review of CFP published by Friedman et al. (2008) and addresses new insights and relevant emerging global themes such as climate and environmental change, international market issues, and socioeconomic impacts of CFP. It also provides a proposed universal case definition for CFP designed to account for the variability in symptom presentation across different geographic regions. Information that is important but unchanged since the previous review has been reiterated. This article is intended for a broad audience, including resource and fishery managers, commercial and recreational fishers, public health officials, medical professionals, and other interested parties.

Keywords: Gambierdiscus; algae; ciguatera fish poisoning; ciguatoxin; climate change; diagnosis; environmental change; food poisoning; harmful algal bloom; human health; natural toxins; neurology; neuropsychology; neurotoxin; seafood poisoning; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ciguatera Poisoning / epidemiology*
  • Ciguatoxins / toxicity*
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Fishes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Public Health
  • Seafood / poisoning*


  • Ciguatoxins