San Francisco: Having eaten a tropical fish that they had caught in international waters 14 of 19 crewmembers onboard the Panama-flagged Balsa 85 (2011 built, 7,723 dwt) have been rushed to hospital with a very serious strain of food poisoning. All of the crew are Filipinos of the ship controlled by Japan’s Dowa Line. The ship was readying to depart Saint John Port on the east coast of Canada with a cargo of potash when the illness struck.
The particular type of food poisoning that has hit the crew can have neurological and heart-related symptoms and the crew are likely to be in hospital for a couple of weeks at least. The ship – and its five crew – will remain at the port until the 14 missing crew return.
The working diagnosis is the crew has ciguatera, which is an illness caused by eating fish that contain toxins produced by a marine microalgae called Gambierdiscus toxicus.
Three of the 14 ill crewmembers are in intensive care.