Manatee County teens hospitalized after eating fish

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- We've had a lot of great fish tales on our broadcasts this week, but this one may make you think twice the next time you eat seafood.

Two Manatee County teens became violently ill recently after eating fish they caught during a trip to the Bahamas, and both were diagnosed with ciguatera poisoning.

Austin Goncalves and his friend Marlin Ellis caught a lot of fish on a recent trip to the Bahamas. What they also caught was something that sent both to a hospital in Miami.

They were all sick; throwing up, hallucinating, and going unconscious,” says Christina Martin, Austin’s sister.

The two friends were diagnosed with ciguatera poisoning after eating one of the fish. “We don't know which fish it is…either snapper or porgie.”

The toxin is found in large reef fish that eat smaller fish which have consumed the toxin-producing algae.

Seafood lovers will never know if a fish has it. “When one eats the fish, there is no taste, odor, and no indication of filets that have toxins,” says Tom Larkin on Manatee County Environmental Health.

You will know once the symptoms hit you. “It's going to be very painful…a lot of muscle and ab pain and weakness,” says Ronald Cox of Manatee County Health Epidemiology.

In some rare cases, it can even be deadly.

Fortunately, for these two young anglers, the worst is behind them.

MORE: Fish known to carry ciguatoxins

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