Fish may be harmful to man in various ways—some through their bite or sting and some through bacterial contamination or allergens. However, the most curious phenomenon is ichthyosarcotoxism, or poisoning incurred by eating fresh unspoiled fish of species not ordinarily or at least not consistently poisonous. Halstead and Lively1 state that there is no evidence that any species of fish except the puffer is inherently poisonous. Victims of this disease often comment that the fish that poisoned them tasted better than any they had ever eaten. So far poisonous fish have been found chiefly in tropical and subtropical waters. Outbreaks of ichthyosarcotoxism have been reported in the South Pacific, Philippines, Hawaii, and West Indies. In the spring and summer of 1954 there were four outbreaks in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., all caused by eating barracuda.
Many commercially valuable species of fish have been found to be highly toxic at certain
POISONOUS FISH. JAMA. 1957;163(2):118–119. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.02970370032010
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