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Marine biotoxins











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    Book (series)
    Report of the Expert Meeting on Ciguatera Poisoning
    Rome, 19-23 November 2018
    2020
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    Phytoplankton blooms, micro-algal blooms, toxic algae, red tides, or harmful algae, are all terms for naturally occurring phenomena that have occurred throughout recorded history. About 300 hundred species of micro algae are reported at times to form mass occurrence, so called blooms. Nearly one fourth of these species are known to produce toxins. Even non-toxic algal blooms can have devastating impacts when they lead to kills of fish and invertebrates by generating anoxic conditions. Some algal species, although non-toxic to humans, can produce exudates that can cause damage to the delicate gill tissues of fish (raphidophytes Chattonella, Heterosigma, and dinoflagellates Karenia, Karlodinium) . Aquatic animals can suffer devastating mortalities, which could lead economical and food losses, and eventually became a food security problem. Of greatest concern to humans are algal species that produce potent neurotoxins that can find their way through shellfish and fish to human consumers where they evoke a variety of gastrointestinal and neurological illnesses (paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP), diarrhoeic shellfish poisoning (DSP), neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (NSP), azaspiracid shellfish poisoning (AZP) and ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP)). Worldwide, ciguatoxins are estimated to cause around 50 000 cases of ciguatera fish poisoning annually; neurological effects may last for weeks or even years and one percent of these cases are fatal . Climate change and costal water over enrichment create an enabling environment for harmful algal blooms, which seem to have become more frequent, more intense and more widespread in the past decades.
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    Brochure, flyer, fact-sheet
    Monitoring and preventing ciguatera poisoning
    E-learning fact sheet
    2021
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    This fact sheet describes the course that is designed to help learners understand the ecology of the causative organisms, as well as the potential hazard of fish contamination and consequent illnesses. The course proposes tools, approaches and strategies for the design and implementation of environmental, food safety and epidemiological monitoring, with a view to developing a well-informed ciguatera risk management plan.
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    Book (stand-alone)
    Joint FAO/WHO Literature Review: Histamine in Salmonids 2018
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    Histamine is a naturally occurring substance that is derived from the decarboxylation of amino acids. It can be present in certain foods containing free histidine. Certain bacteria produce the enzyme histidine decarboxylase during growth. This enzyme reacts with free histidine, a naturally occurring amino acid that is present in higher proportions in certain species of fish, particularly those of the Scombridae and Scomberesocidae families. The result is the formation of histamine. Histamine poisoning is often referred to as scombrotoxin fish poisoning (SFP) because of the frequent association of the illness with the consumption of spoiled scombroid fish. SFP is most commonly linked to fish that have a high level of free histidine. Histamine formation is then dependent on the time/temperature conditions under which the fish is handled. Even in fish with high levels of free histidine, the available data suggest that high histamine levels are as a result of gross time/temperature abuse during handling and storage. Compared with scombroid fish, which have free histidine levels ranging from approximately 5 000 mg/kg to 20 000 mg/kg, most species in the Salmonidae family have less than 1000 mg/kg histidine. Nevertheless some concerns have been raised about the potential risk of SPF or SPF-like illness linked to Salmonidae, considering these fish are globally traded with 80% of global production entering international trade. This report describes the methods and findings of a comprehensive literature review undertaken to assess the scientific evidence regarding the risk of histamine development in fish of the family Salmonidae and the potential impact for human health.

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