Ship crew stricken by food poisoning in Saint John

By Accidents

Following an accident involving food poisoning, fourteen seafarers from the Panamanian ship Balsa 85 have been transported to Saint John hospital in order to receive the proper treatment.

The ship had been docked at PotashCorp terminal and was just about to depart on Saturday when several of its crew members reported to have fallen ill. Out of the fourteen seafarers in total, three are in Saint John Regional Hospital’s intensive care unit and the other eleven men are currently listed to still be in serious, however, stable condition.

Doctors believe the crew is suffering from ciguatera fish poisoning, the cause for which is eating tropical fish that has itself consumed toxin-producing algae.

According to Dr. Cristin Muecke, New Brunswick medical officer of health, there is absolutely no risk regarding the other five seafarers that did not consume the dangerous fish. He further added that there is also no reason for Canadians to be worried about getting sick.

“The risk of getting ill is strictly limited to the people that ate the fish. Algae is also toxic to fish, but it may be amplified through the food chain thus bigger predatory fish come along with a higher probability of causing illness” Dr. Muecke commented.

Food poisoning can result in one experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, nausea, neurological symptoms like weakness and numbness, and cardiac symptoms like heart rhythm-related problems. Ciguatera fish poisoning in most cases is successfully treated and it is rarely fatal, but each case depends on the amount of tainted fish one has consumed.

The Saint John Regional Hospital put in effect its mass casualty (code orange) plan in order to successfully treat the ill seafarers. It has been reported that the duration of their treatment is as of yet not certain and it could potentially take up to days or even weeks, depending on how they respond to initial treatment procedures.