Fish-borne disease is investigated in the Amazon

The disease is caused by a toxin that can be found in fish like Pirarucu and Pacu

Authorities are on alert after the increase in the number of people suspected of having Haff syndrome in the states of Amazonas and Bahia. Haff Syndrome, known as ‘black urine’ disease, is caused by a toxin that can be found in certain fish and shellfish. The substance causes damage to the muscular system and organs such as kidneys.

At least 25 cases are under analysis, 19 of them in the city of Itacoatiara (AM) and another six in five municipalities in Bahia: Alagoinhas, Simões Filho, Maraú, Mata de São Jorge and Salvador.

According to the health surveillance, in Amazonas the suspicion is that those infected have consumed freshwater fish. Of the 19 cases in Itacoatiara, eight are hospitalized.

The director of the epidemiological surveillance of Bahia, Márcia São Pedro, explained that the cases are still under investigation and the foods consumed by patients are undergoing laboratory analysis. ??Patients can present rhabdomyolysis for other causes??, emphasized Márcia.

Haff Syndrome

The ?black urine disease? it is a type of rhabdomyolysis, a name given to a syndrome that generates the destruction of skeletal muscle fibers and releases elements from within the fibers (such as electrolytes, myoglobins and proteins) into the blood.

The name comes from the discovery of the disease in a lake called Frisches Haff, in the Koningsberg region in 1924. Haff’s disease causes muscle rigidity. In addition, the appearance of dark urine is often a consequence of renal failure, which is why this expression is used to refer to the disease.

In an article about the disease, doctors at the Hospital São Lucas Copacabana explain that there has been no confirmation yet about the nature of the toxin contained in the fish whose ingestion caused the disease. In some books it is associated with arsenic poisoning.

The infectologist Mariana Tassara explained that the toxin can be developed in raw or cooked fish, since it is thermostable, that is, it is not eliminated at high temperatures. ??The packaging of this fish can cause this toxin that causes food poisoning. As it is a very rare syndrome, there is no need to panic?, explained the doctor.

Also according to experts, the toxin has neither specific taste nor smell, which makes its perception more complex. It is also not eliminated by the fish cooking process.

In the reports recorded over the years, people affected by the disease ate different types of fish, such as salmon, pacu-butter, pirapitinga, tambaqui, and different families, such as Cambaridae and Parastacidae.

*With information from Agência Brasil