Tygerberg Hospital has warned of a growing number of seafood-poisoning cases during autumn.
Previously there had been a rise in these cases between March and May, according to a study by the hospital’s poisons information centre, said hospital spokeswoman Laticia Pienaar.
It could be due to the red tides of late summer and autumn and the tradition of serving pickled fish on Good Friday, she said.
“The increase in demand for fish during this period could relate to a break in the cold chain from vendors, and improper refrigeration on the user’s side,” Ms Pienaar said.
Symptoms include hot and blotchy skin, diarrhoea, palpitations, headache, vomiting and stomach cramps. A tingling sensation around the mouth and in the legs and a scratchy feeling in the throat might occur in up to 20% to 40% of patients. Initially, a peppery taste might be experienced.
Patients with a history of asthma or allergies could experience difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
Because many of the symptoms resembled those of a food allergy, patients were often incorrectly told they had a “seafood allergy”, Ms Pienaar said.
Contact the Western Cape Poison Information Helpline at 0861 555 777 for more information.