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Seafood Poisoning Symptoms and Treatment

Medically reviewed by Elfred Landas, MD · General Practitioner · Maxicare Primary Care Center

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 15, 2021

    Seafood Poisoning Symptoms and Treatment

    Two children died from eating the Zosimus aeneus crab or the “devil crab,’ locally known in Cagayan as kuret. Here’s what parents need to know about seafood poisoning symptoms and treatment.

    Food Poisoning: Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies

    2 Kids dead after eating kuret

    Authorities reported the deaths of 2-year-old Macniel Craigs Cuabo and 5-year-old Reign Clark Cuabo after eating the “devil crab,’ also known in Cagayan as kuret.

    Maylyn, the kids’ mother, explained that her husband, Eugenio Cuabo, gathered crabs at around five in the morning. After cooking the crabs, the family shared the meal, and not long after, Eugenio and the kids felt weak and started vomiting. In the hospital, Eugenio was in a coma, but the children didn’t survive.

    Eugenio came out of the coma and received the news of his sons’ passing.

    BFAR issued warnings to public

    The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) warned the public, especially those in the coastal areas of Cagayan, from consuming kuret. They explained that the crab has neurotoxins that lead to food poisoning.

    Furthermore, authorities emphasized the importance of not consuming seafood and crab that are uncommon or those that have different-looking shells.

    seafood poisoning symptoms and treatment

    Signs and Symptoms of Seafood Poisoning

    Seafood poisoning has several types with different symptoms and treatment strategies. Please refer to the guide below:

    Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning

    If it’s paralytic poisoning, you may experience tingling and numbness in your mouth within about 30 minutes of consuming the seafood. The sensation will spread to your arms and legs and might lead to temporary paralysis, respiratory failure, and death..

    Other symptoms include dizziness and headache. Less common signs include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

    Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning

    This type of poisoning occurs when the shellfish contain toxins. Symptoms include:

    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea

    Soon after, you may experience numbness and tingling sensation in the mouth, dizziness, and headache.

    Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning

    A rare type of seafood poisoning is amnesic poisoning which manifests as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These signs are then followed by short-term memory loss and even some nervous system symptoms.

    Ciguatera Poisoning

    Ciguatera poisoning is more common in tropical and sub-tropical waters. It happens when a person consumes fish contaminated by the ciguatera toxin. Its symptoms occur between 1 and 24 hours after ingestion. Signs and symptoms include:

    • Numbness and tingling in the mouth, throat, fingers, and toes.
    • Pain or burning on contact with cold water.
    • Muscular weakness with joint and muscle pain.
    • Abdominal pain with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
    • Headache
    • Itchiness, which worsens with alcohol consumption
    • Finally, there’s difficulty breathing in severe cases.


    People who experienced ciguatera poisoning should avoid fish, nuts, caffeine, and alcohol for about 6 months after recovery as they may cause a relapse of symptoms.

    Scombroid Poisoning

    Scombroid poisoning happens due to the consumption of high levels of histamine.

    In fish, bacteria produce histamine. Now, when the seafood is not chilled after capture or stored at the correct temperature before consumption, bacteria could multiply and produce high amounts of histamine.

    Symptoms of scombroid poisoning include:

    • Experiencing a metallic or peppery taste in your mouth
    • Upper body flushing
    • Headache and dizziness
    • Itching
    • Abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea

    Treatment for Seafood Poisoning Symptoms

    Please note that seafood poisoning may be a medical emergency. Hence, if you or someone you know develop the symptoms discussed above, it’s best to proceed to the hospital to receive appropriate treatment immediately.

    Usually, intervention depends on the cause and the severity of symptoms.

    For instance, there’s still no antidote for ciguatera toxin, so the doctor may use different medicines to address the symptoms. On the other hand, most cases of scombroid poisoning respond well to anti-histamine medications.

    How to Prevent Seafood Poisoning

    Now that we know about the seafood poisoning symptoms and treatment, let’s talk about prevention.

    As per BFAR’s advice, people should not consume uncommon and differently-looking seafood. Other tips include:

    • Raw fish should be handled properly and stored immediately at the correct temperature.
    • If you’re fishing for yourself or your family, be sure to follow posted warnings.
    • Always purchase seafood at reputable stores and dealers with business and sanitary permits.

    Finally, to receive appropriate treatment, seek medical help immediately if you develop seafood poisoning symptoms.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Elfred Landas, MD

    General Practitioner · Maxicare Primary Care Center

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jun 15, 2021

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