Food Poisoning Health (cont.)

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Toxic Agent Symptoms

Toxic agents are the least common cause of food poisoning. Illness is often an isolated episode caused by poor food preparation or selection (such as picking wild mushrooms).

  • Mushroom toxins: Illness can range from mild to deadly depending on the type of mushroom eaten. Often there is nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some types of mushrooms produce a nerve toxin, which causes sweating, shaking, hallucinations, and coma.
  • Ciguatera poisoning: Caused by eating fish that contains toxins produced by a marine algae called Gambierdiscus toxicus. It can cause moderate to severe illness with numbness of the area around the mouth and lips that can spread to the arms and legs, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain and weakness, headache, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat. The toxin may cause sensory problems in which hot things feel cold and cold things feel hot. It is transmitted by eating certain large game fish from tropical waters-most specifically barracuda, grouper, snapper, and jacks. According to the CDC, ciguatera has no cure. Symptoms may disappear in days or weeks, but may persist for years.
  • Scombroid: Causes mild to moderate illness with facial flushing, burning around the mouth and lips, peppery-taste sensations, a red rash on the upper body, dizziness, headache, and itchy skin. Severe symptoms may include blurry vision, respiratory distress, and swelling of the tongue and mouth. Symptoms typically last from four to six hours, and rarely more than one or two days. It is transmitted in seafood, mostly mahi-mahi and tuna, but can also be in Swiss cheese.
  • Pesticides: Cause mild to severe illness with weakness, blurred vision, headache, cramps, diarrhea, increased production of saliva, and shaking of the arms and legs. Toxins are transmitted by eating unwashed fruits or vegetables contaminated with pesticides.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/12/2013

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