Ciguetera poisoning in scuba diving

Accident Assessment: A 37-year-old diver and her companions made their first 2 dives on a dive vacation. The first dive was 60 fsw for 50 minutes, the second was 45 fsw for 60 minutes. Both dives were on air and there were no reported problems. In the evening she and her companions enjoyed dinner which included local grouper. The next morning she awoke experiencing a metallic taste in her mouth, tingling of her lips and a reversal of hot and cold sensation. She spoke with her companions and one other person was experiencing similar symptoms. They went to the local hospital for evaluation. What do you suspect?

Accident Assessment Answer: The ultimate diagnosis was ciguatera poisoning. Victims of suspected ciguatera poisoning should be evaluated immediately by medical personnel. Reef fish such as groupers, sea basses and snappers, and barracudas that prey on reef fish, may contain toxins that cause ciguatera poisoning. Initial symptoms of poisoning occur within six hours after someone consumes toxic fish; symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and numbness and tingling, which may spread to the extremities. The classic symptoms — metallic taste in the mouth and reversal of hot and cold sensation in the hands and mouth, are not always seen. The symptoms will generally resolve within a few days to a few weeks.

 Learn more: . Not all injuries or illness that occur on a dive vacation are dive-related, but DAN can still help by preparing you to recognize and manage these situations. 
The DAN First Aid for Hazardous Marine Life Injuries course prepare you to recognize and manage seafood poisoning and other marine life-related illness and injuries. ( )


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