Ciguatera Fish Poisoning: Epidemiology of the Disease on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

J. Glenn Morris Jr.Bacterial Diseases Division, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health, Virgin Islands of the United States, Atlanta, Georgia 30333

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Pamela LewinBacterial Diseases Division, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health, Virgin Islands of the United States, Atlanta, Georgia 30333

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C. Warren SmithBacterial Diseases Division, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health, Virgin Islands of the United States, Atlanta, Georgia 30333

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Paul A. BlakeBacterial Diseases Division, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health, Virgin Islands of the United States, Atlanta, Georgia 30333

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Roy SchneiderBacterial Diseases Division, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health, Virgin Islands of the United States, Atlanta, Georgia 30333

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In a random household survey conducted on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, the incidence of ciguatera fish poisoning was found to be 36.5 cases per 1,000 population per 5 years (95% confidence limits ± 16.9 cases per 1,000 population per 5 years). An average of 3.6 cases per 1,000 population per year were diagnosed in the hospital emergency room on St. Thomas. Cases seen in the emergency room occurred most frequently among persons aged 30–39 years. No clear seasonality for cases could be demonstrated. In an investigation of cases occurring between 1 January and 10 April 1980, illness was caused by a variety of different fish, with carrang (Caranx ruber) the species most commonly implicated. Patients and age-matched controls ate fish with equal frequency; patients were significantly more likely to have had previous episodes of ciguatera fish poisoning than were controls.

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