Thursday, February 20, 2014

Treat Plankton Poisoning

Plankton poisoning is caused by eating contaminated fish or shellfish that have ingested toxic plankton or algae. It is important to diagnose and treat plankton poisoning immediately. Plankton poisoning can result in symptoms ranging from discomfort to death. If you are a seafood lover, you should be prepared to recognize and respond to possible plankton poisoning.


Treat Ciguatera Poisoning

1. Learn about ciguatera poisoning. This type of plankton poisoning is caused by toxins in microalgae. Victims often experience "flu-like" vomiting and diarrhea. Some report tingling or numbness inside or outside the mouth and say that their teeth feel "loose". Reversed perceptions of heat and cold are also common, as are lowered blood pressure, slow pulse, pain in joints and muscles, weakness and burning sensations. If left untreated, ciguatera poisoning can cause disorientation, depression, impaired motor skills, slurred speech, trouble breathing and even paralysis.

2. Find out whether the victim recently ate tropical fish within the last several hours. Fish species associated with ciguatera poisoning include sea bass, mackerel, jack, kingfish, triggerfish, mahimahi, parrotfish, porgy, filefish, snapper, moray eel, grouper, surgeonfish and barracuda.

3. Use a ciguatera poisoning test kit, if one is available.

4. Call a health care provider if symptoms are mild. If symptoms are severe, call 911 or go immediately to the emergency room. Also seek emergency care if symptoms persist or worsen. Definitely do not delay seeing a doctor if the victim is feverish, has abdominal pain or bloating or is vomiting or excreting blood.

5. Rehydrate the victim. Clear liquids can accomplish this for mild poisoning, but intravenous fluids may be needed for more severe cases.

6. Address the vomiting and diarrhea. Depending on the severity of the poisoning, the victim may need help either to expel the toxin or to halt the vomiting and diarrhea. Medications such as apomorphine or ipecac promote vomiting. Severe cases of plankton poisoning may require pumping the stomach. In some situations the doctor gives the patient charcoal to help absorb the poison.

Treat Clupeotoxin Poisoning

7. Be aware of symptoms of the plankton poisoning known as clupeotoxin. Victims can suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, dryness and/or a metallic taste in the mouth, headaches, chills, sweats, dizziness, lightheadedness, lowered blood pressure, a fast pulse and elevated respiration.

8. See whether there is a blue tinge on the victim's extremities, such as fingertips or toes. The nose or lips may also appear bluish.

9. Ask whether the victim has eaten anchovies, sardines, herring, slickheads, tarpons or bonefish within the past few hours.

10. Get emergency medical treatment immediately, since about half of the people with this type of plankton poisoning die of it.

11. Treat clupeotoxin poisoning by inducing vomiting if the victim is awake and has consumed the fish within the past three hours. Hydrate the victim. It may be necessary to give intravenous fluids if the patient cannot stop vomiting. There is no known antidote for this type of poisoning.

Treat Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP)

12. Be alert to possible Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) symptoms, which are caused by toxic algae. Victims may exhibit many different symptoms, including stomach upset, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea within half an hour of eating the contaminated fish. Some report a mild tingling sensation as well. Severe cases of ASP can manifest in headaches, dizziness, slowed pulse, lowered blood pressure, seizures, confusion, difficulty breathing and short-term memory loss. If untreated, paralysis or coma can occur.

13. Determine whether the victim recently ate any fish or shellfish. This type of plankton poisoning is most common in shellfish such as mussels, clams, Dungeness crab or other fish from the waters of the Pacific Northwest.

14. Seek immediate medical attention. First aid should include inducing vomiting to expel as much of the toxin as possible. However, never delay in getting treatment, since some victims have so much trouble breathing that they have to be put on respirators.

Treat Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP)

15. Know the risks and symptoms of the frequently deadly Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). Caused by toxic algae, it can be found in many different oceans worldwide.

16. Find out whether the victim ate shellfish such as mussels, oysters, sea snails, lobster, scallops or barnacles.

17.Look for symptoms such as numbness or tingling sensations, dizziness, drowsiness, rash, fever, difficulty walking, ataxia and trouble breathing, speaking or swallowing.

18. Go to the emergency room or call 911. First aid responders should induce vomiting to expel the poison from the system and should not intervene to halt vomiting or diarrhea, which can also help purge the toxin. During first aid, provide clear fluids to rehydrate the victim but do not allow food.

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