The state is warning Alaskans about the risk of eating fish not properly refrigerated or preserved. According to a state of Alaska epidemiology bulletin, seven patients this summer were diagnosed with scombroid poisoning.

The bulletin says bacterial overgrowth causes scombrotoxin to develop when fish isn't properly cooled. The fish may have a peppery, sharp, "bubbly" or salty taste.

Symptoms of scombroid poisoning can start within 10 minutes to an hour after eating contaminated fish, according to the state. It often goes under-reported because it presents like an allergy.

According to the bulletin symptoms include flushing of the face and upper body, a severe headache, palpitations, itching, blurred vision, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

The symptoms usually clear up within 12 hours but could last for a couple of days; extreme cases could require hospitalization.

Patients who the state says were treated for scombroid poisoning reported eating salmon, catfish and single-serving foil packets of tuna. Salmon are not usually associated with scombroid poisoning; more often it is found in species like tuna, bonito, mackerel and other saltwater darker-meat fish like mahi-mahi.

The state says to avoid scombroid fish should be quickly and consistently cooled before eating to prevent bacterial overgrowth, it cannot be destroyed by freezing, cooking, smoking, curing or canning.

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