Scombroid Poisoning Clinician Alert

Posted September 11, 2019

This alert is to warn you about possible Scombroid poisoning following consumption of Yellowfin tuna steaks.  On September 7, 2019, the FDA issued a consumer alert for Yellowfin tuna steaks sold at Kroger retail stores in several states, including Kentucky, with “sell by” dates of August 29 – Sept. 14, 2019.

Scombroid poisoning is caused by eating fish that has not been properly refrigerated and therefore contains high levels of histamine.  Symptoms typically develop within a few minutes to an hour after eating the fish and resemble those of an allergic reaction (flushing of the face, headache, heart palpitations, itching, blurred vision, cramps, and diarrhea).  Symptoms usually resolve within 12 hours.

Although Scombroid poisoning is rare, please be on the alert for it in light of the recent FDA recall.  Patients that present with the above symptoms should be asked about fish consumption in the past 2 hours. Contact your local health department if you believe Scombroid poisoning may be the cause of the patient’s illness.

If you have any questions, please contact: Carrell Rush, Foodborne Epidemiologist, at 502-564-3261 x4240.

A PDF is available to use in the clinical setting.

Thank you for your diligence in clinical diagnosis and reporting regarding this and other routine and urgent public health matters!