Scombroid (Scombrotoxin poisoning)


  • Often confused with allergy
  • Most common cause is scrombotoxin in spoiled oily fish
    • Tuna, mackerel, bonito and skipjack
  • Also known as Histamine Fish Poisoning (up to 25% of wt ingested may be pure histamine)
  • Symptoms and signs include 
    • flushing, urticaria, headache, palpitations, GI upset.
  • The symptoms begin minutes after ingestion and can last hours.
  • Treatment is with antihistamines
    • Occasionally salbutamol and / or epinephrine are indicated
  • It may be wise to refer the patient to an allergist for testing using the same fish. This will help exclude a hypersensitivity reaction
  • Histamine Fish Poisoning is a notifiable disease

Content by Dr Íomhar O' Sullivan 15/02/2002. Reviewed by Dr ÍOS 23/06/2003, 18/05/2005, 12/05/2007. Last review Dr ÍOS 16/12/19.