Ministry of Agriculture monitors cases of ‘black urine’ disease

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (Map) reported on Wednesday (15) that all reported cases and under investigation on Haff disease – known as “black urine” – are being monitored by the staff of the folder and epidemiology of the Ministry of Health.

The professionals work in cooperation with the Federal Agricultural Defense Laboratories and the Federal Institute of Santa Catarina (IFSC).

The Map guides the population to pay attention when buying fish, in general. Marketed fish, shellfish and crustaceans must bear the seal of the official inspection bodies.

Products identified by the inspection stamp on the label enable traceability of their origin, which makes them safe.

“It is very important that the population is attentive to the reports, thus avoiding speculative information that may cause confusion regarding the subject”, said the director of the Department of Inspection of Animal Products (Dipoa), Ana Lúcia Viana.

Research on possible causative agents is being carried out by laboratories, based on samples collected from food consumed, as well as biological material from patients affected by the disease.

As it has been recorded in several biomes (rivers, lakes, seas, etc.) and species, it is not possible, so far, to determine, based on the cases analyzed, the environments and animals involved.

Based on the preliminary analyses, the laboratory teams carried out an extensive survey of samples in search of suspicious molecules, especially from the groups of palytoxins and ovatoxins, identified as the most likely toxins causing Haff’s disease.

These molecules are analogous – they can be produced by toxic microalgae – and are present in most marine aquariums.

What is Haff’s Disease

Haff’s disease still has no defined cause and is characterized as a syndrome in which rhabdomyolysis (rupture of muscle fibers) occurs, with a sudden onset, with stiffness, muscle pain and enzyme changes.

The first signs and symptoms may appear in the first 24 hours after consuming boiled fish, crayfish and other contaminated seafood.

The disease is considered to be emerging and, as it has an unknown origin, it is classified as a public health event, requiring compulsory notification.

In Brazil, cases of the disease were reported in 2008 with some freshwater fish species such as Pacu (Mylossoma spp), tambaqui (Colossoma macropomum) and pirapitinga (Piaractus brachypomus), as well as saltwater fish such as the arabaiana/eye. de-boi (Seriola spp.) and whiting (Mycteroperca spp), in addition to new cases in 2016 and now in 2021.