Sexually Transmitted Fish Toxin

Sexually Transmitted Fish Toxin
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There are neurotoxins in certain fish that can survive cooking and cause unusual symptoms.

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What if we do it ourselves, though? From the meat counter, straight home in a biohazard suit to place the meat directly into boiling water—assuring absolutely no cross-contamination in the kitchen. Even if it’s fish—the one animal more contaminated than chicken—would we finally be out of the woods?

Fact or fiction: You can’t get food poisoning from properly cooked and handled fish. Now it’s easy to get food poisoning eating raw seafood. About 85% of fish is contaminated with fecal bacteria, thanks to “gut waste exposed during [fish] evisceration.” We can get cholera from raw oysters—in fact, there was a newly emerging strain reported last year in the United States. Or, one can get tapeworms from sushi, and other delights and parasites such as brain worms or eye worms—I’ll spare you a photo of that one. Or, necrotizing infections, reported this year, from oysters, shellfish, or other seafood; the so-called flesh-eating bacteria. Immediate limb amputations were performed, but still 37% of the victims died.

But what if you cook out the crap? Fish don’t get mad cow disease—which is caused by a pathogen that can survive even incineration at temperatures hot enough to melt lead. So, are we safe if it’s cooked? And this is only in terms of food poisoning; we’re not talking right now about long-term effects of eating the mercury or PCBs. In terms of acute illness only, as long as you cook it, is it safe? Or not necessarily?

It turns out some of the most common causes of fish-borne food poisoning are not destroyed by cooking. 50,000 people get poisoned every year from a neurotoxin in tropical fish—like red snapper, sea bass, grouper—who eat fish who eat toxic algae. Can cause all sorts of weird reactions, like hot feels like cold, and cold then feels like hot. And, after fish consumption, the toxin itself can be sexually transmitted, and cause weeks of painful genital symptoms. So even if we don’t eat fish, and our non-vegetarian lover assures us they properly handled and cooked their fish, we may not be safe.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to andreasnilsson1976 via Flickr.

What if we do it ourselves, though? From the meat counter, straight home in a biohazard suit to place the meat directly into boiling water—assuring absolutely no cross-contamination in the kitchen. Even if it’s fish—the one animal more contaminated than chicken—would we finally be out of the woods?

Fact or fiction: You can’t get food poisoning from properly cooked and handled fish. Now it’s easy to get food poisoning eating raw seafood. About 85% of fish is contaminated with fecal bacteria, thanks to “gut waste exposed during [fish] evisceration.” We can get cholera from raw oysters—in fact, there was a newly emerging strain reported last year in the United States. Or, one can get tapeworms from sushi, and other delights and parasites such as brain worms or eye worms—I’ll spare you a photo of that one. Or, necrotizing infections, reported this year, from oysters, shellfish, or other seafood; the so-called flesh-eating bacteria. Immediate limb amputations were performed, but still 37% of the victims died.

But what if you cook out the crap? Fish don’t get mad cow disease—which is caused by a pathogen that can survive even incineration at temperatures hot enough to melt lead. So, are we safe if it’s cooked? And this is only in terms of food poisoning; we’re not talking right now about long-term effects of eating the mercury or PCBs. In terms of acute illness only, as long as you cook it, is it safe? Or not necessarily?

It turns out some of the most common causes of fish-borne food poisoning are not destroyed by cooking. 50,000 people get poisoned every year from a neurotoxin in tropical fish—like red snapper, sea bass, grouper—who eat fish who eat toxic algae. Can cause all sorts of weird reactions, like hot feels like cold, and cold then feels like hot. And, after fish consumption, the toxin itself can be sexually transmitted, and cause weeks of painful genital symptoms. So even if we don’t eat fish, and our non-vegetarian lover assures us they properly handled and cooked their fish, we may not be safe.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to andreasnilsson1976 via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

For more on neurotoxins and fish, see Ciguatera Poisoning & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

And check out my other videos on foodborne illness and fish

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

10 responses to “Sexually Transmitted Fish Toxin

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  1. Dr. Greger, I got a request to like a Facebook page about a boy that has an undiagnosed neurodegenerative disease or condition, & he’s in a wheelchair. I asked what he eats, & posted your link, & said to look up “Nerve Health” on your website, & I commented on chicken having arsenic & causing many public health issues. I don’t know what else to do. I hope he gets a plant based diet. I’m thinking he gets junk food to eat. Poor kid. Is there anything else I can say that might help???

    1. Hi Kathleen Lisle, thanks for your comment, I am one of the volunteers on the site. Thanks for your help to educate people about Dr Greger website and work. Keep up the good work.

  2. Hi, I’m a vegan and it’s been a common trend for vegans to eat oysters because they have good amounts of b12 and omega3’s.Would there any drawbacks to eating smoked oysters?More specifically is there any reasearch about heavy metals or other toxins found in oysters?

  3. 50,000 people /year is not much globally. So let’s avoid the tropical fish: like red snapper, sea bass, grouper—who eat fish who eat toxic algae. And you mention no permanent damage, just weeks of painful sexual organs.

  4. High levels of mercury can be found in some type of seafood, so it is a good idea to use a seafood distributor that tests their seafood and follows sustainability practices if you decide to consume seafood. Also, steaming or boiling can help to remove toxins, where grilling keeps it contained.

  5. As Dr. G as reported, those that eat seafood exhibit higher rates of type II diabetes and there is significant amounts of cholesterol present. Seafood should be avoided.

    Dr. Ben

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