Saturday, April 22, 2006


We've had marvelous tuna, delightful roughy, but we've never really gotten off on a fish.

This could change, however. Practical Fishkeeping tells us why:
Two men have suffered terrifying visual and auditory hallucinations after eating a popular local seafish in Mediterranean restaurants.

According to a clinical study on the patients, which is due to be published in the journal Clinical Toxicology, the men started seeing and hearing things after contracting a rare form of hallucinogenic poisoning from the Salema fish they were dining on.

The species is a popular food fish and is not normally hallucinogenic.

Ichthyoallyeinotoxism, or hallucinogenic fish poisoning, is caused by eating the heads or body parts of certain species of herbivorous fish and has previously only been recorded from the Indo Pacific.

The effects of eating ichthyoallyeinotoxic fishes, such as certain mullet, goatfish, tangs, damsels and rabbitfish, are believed to be similar to LSD, and may include vivid and terrifying auditory and visual hallucinations. This has given rise to the collective common name for ichthyoallyeinotoxic fishes of "dream fish".

Pommier and de Haro of the Toxicovigilance Centre Antipoison at Marseille's Hospital Salvator, who undertook the study, said that the men had both eaten a fish called Sarpa salpa, and subsequently suffered from CNS disturbances including terrifying hallucinations and nightmares.

One of the men, a 40-year old, was admitted to hospital suffering from a digestive problem and frightening visual and auditory hallucinations, which took 36 hours to disappear. The second man, a 90-year old, suffered from auditory hallucinations a couple of hours after eating the same species of fish, followed by a series of nightmares over the next two nights.

The poisoning can start to cause vivid hallucinations within minutes of eating a poisonous fish and may last for days, often with no other effects. There is no antidote.
No antidote? Most excellent.

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