Project number: 1983-041
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $0.00
Principal Investigator: Mike Capra
Organisation: University of Queensland (UQ)
Project start/end date: 28 Dec 1987 - 31 Dec 1987


1. To isolate ciguatoxin to obtain a more precise knowledge of the fundamental mode of action of ciguatoxin in producing the severe clinical signs that are often observed in cases of ciguatera poisoning

Final report

Author: Michael F. Capra John Cameron
Final Report • 1987-12-31 • 7.60 MB


Ciguatera poisoning is a form of seafood poisoning that occurs in humans after the ingestion of particular specimens of a variety of tropical marine fish species. Ciguatera poisoning is caused by the ingestion of small quantities of a very powerful toxin, ciguatoxin (CTX), that occurs in the tissues of the offending fish.

The distribution of human ciguatera poisoning is confined mainly to the tropics where it is a considerable cause of morbidity. Over 50,000 people may be afflicted each year in the tropical regions of the world. It is the most frequently reported foodborne disease of a chemical nature within the USA with most cases emanating from tropical regions of southeastern Florida and Hawaii.

In the small Pacific Island nations where fish forms a considerable component of the diet, ciguatera poisoning can cause a significant public health problem. South Pacific Commission figures over the five year period 1977 to 1981 report incidences as low as 2.5/100,000 in French Polynesia. Estimates of the annual incidences of ciguatera poisoning in two Australian communities were 24/100,000 in Maryborough - Hervey Bay and 34/100,000 in Cairns.

Some of the objectives of this project were to examine the histopathological effects of CTX on non nervous tissues; to assess the effects of CTX on survival in fish; to assess the functional and structural damage to peripheral nerves in the victims of chronic CTX intoxication; and to examine the effects of CTX on excitable membranes in "carrier" and "non-carrier" species of fish.

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