Florida teens recovering from fish poisoning

BRADENTON BEACH, Florida -- A family vacation to the Bahamas turned into a nightmare for four Bay area residents who were poisoned after eating a fish they caught.

After spending nearly two weeks in the hospital, the mother and son are expected home Friday.

RELATED: CDC information on ciguatera

Christina Martin says one of the ill boys, her 15-year-old brother Austin Goncalves, could live on the water.

"Fishing is my brother's whole life," Christina Martin said.

Austin took along one of his friends, Marlin Ellis, on the trip to the Bahamas he took with his mother and her boyfriend. And they were successful when they went fishing.

"They speared some fish off the water and cooked it for dinner," Christina Martin said.

But shortly after, the trip took a turn for the worst.

"They were all sick throwing up. They started hallucinating and going unconscious," according to Christina Martin.

The four of them were rushed to the hospital.

"They were only on IV fluids and restrained to the bed," she said.

CHECK: Fish that carry the disease

Christina Martin says doctors in the Bahamas didn't know what was wrong, so the two boys were flown to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where they were diagnosed.

"Ciguatera poisioning. It's rare. The small fish eat off the toxic reef and it gets brought up in the food chain into the larger fish," Christina Martin said.

Martin says there's been fewer than 150 documented cases of ciguatera poisoning in the United States, but it's more common in the Bahamas.

"You can't look at fish and know it has it. You just have to be educated and know where it comes from because it's found in the Caribbean," Martin said.

Now, Austin will be on seizure medication for two months and forbidden to eat fish for almost a year.

His sister says she is just thankful he's alive and hopes people educate themselves on what they are catching when fishing.

"We don't know what fish it was, either the snapper or the porgy. It had the ciguatera poisoning in it and they digested it," Martin said.

Austin is expected home Friday, but he and his mother have racked up more than $30,000 in medical bills. There is a way for people to help the family with their expenses. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 2, there will be a benefit or the family at the Blue Marlin Grill, 121 Bridge St. in Bradenton.

If people cannot make it to the fundraiser, they can donate on this website.


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