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The FDA has announced that there have been at least 28 reports of consumers getting sick from ciguatera fish poisoning. The fish that were eaten were harvested in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The first reproted case was in November and outbreaks of the illness were confirmed in Washington D.C. and St. Louis.

Symptoms of ciguatera poisoning include nausea, vomiting, vertigo and joint pain. In the most serious cases, neurological problems can last for months or even years. Grouper, snapper, amberjack and barracuda are the biggest threat to consumers.

Ciguatera is common in fish living in tropical and subtropical regions, including the Caribbean Sea, the South Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. But the FDA has considered it rare for fish in the northern Gulf of Mexico to have the toxin.

The fish linked to the ciguatera poisoning were harvested near the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and the FDA is recommending that processors not buy the fish harvested near this sanctuary. The FDA is also warning processors to make sure their hazard control plans are up to date, because failure to take the proper precautions could cause their products to be considered adulterated.

Consumers who think they may be ill due to ciguatera poisoning should consult a physician and report their illness to the local health department.

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