Lionfish in Ceará: fisherman did not have cardiac arrest and Sesa advises population about contact with the animal

April 28, 2022 – 4:53 pm
#venomous animal #Bitupitá #Camocim #Ceará #lionfish #health

Sesa’s Communications Office
Photograph: Disclosure / Freepik

Anyone who finds the species must report the appearance of the animal to the Secretary of the Environment of the State by e-mail scientist [email protected]

THE Ceará Health Department (Sesa) informs that, contrary to what was reported by the local and national media, it is false that the fisherman who stepped on a lionfish on the beach of Bitupitá, in the municipality of Barroquinha, on the west coast of the state, suffered cardiac arrest. However, having had seven perforations in the foot caused by the thorns of the venomous animal, considered invasive on the Brazilian coast, the 24-year-old presented intense pain at the site, fever and convulsions. After a week and three visits to health units in Barroquinha and Camocim, a neighboring municipality, the patient has been at home since last Sunday (24), with a stable clinical condition, conscious and without fever. The state ministry continues to monitor the case and has included it in the Notifiable Diseases Information System (Sinan).

This Thursday morning (28), a meeting was held to discuss the scenario with representatives of Sesa and its Epidemiological, Environmental and Worker Health Surveillance cells; the Secretary of the Environment of Ceará (Sema); from the Institute of Marine Sciences (Labomar) of the Federal University of Ceará (UFC) and from the surveillance agencies and health units in the municipalities of Barroquinha and Camocim and from the Health Superintendence of the North Region.

As a result of the meeting, Sesa publishes a technical note of information and guidance on how to act in case of visual or physical contact with fish of this species. Check the document.

unprecedented accident

There is no precedent for similar occurrences in Brazil, as the accident off the coast of Ceará is considered the first in the country with lionfish outside aquarium environments.. In previous situations with aquarists, symptoms such as sharp pain at the perforation site and fevercaused by the toxin of the animal in the human organism.

Invasive species migration

Records from Sema and Labomar/UFC point to a migration of this invasive species. Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific region, the deep waters of southern India, Indonesia, China and western Australia. Because they are ornamental animals, they are common in aquariums around the world. There is no definite cause for the appearance of these animals in the Caribbean Seas in the 1980s. They were initially detected in the United States.

In the North of Brazil, in the northernmost states of the Northeast, such as Piauí and Ceará, and in the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha (PE), the records are recent and date from the years 2020 and 2021. On the northeastern coast, the appearance of this species draws attention for being in shallow water, with depth between one and six meters.

Notifications in Ceará

There is 40 notifications and 28 lionfish collected between the beaches of Luís Correia and Cajueiro da Praia, in Piauí, and in Ceará’s Bitupitá (Barroquinha), Camocim, Jijoca de Jericoacoara, Preá (Cruz), Acaraú and Itarema beaches. About 80% of the records are in fishing corrals and marambaias (artificial structures thrown into the sea to serve as a niche and attract fish). Specialists clarify that the animal does not usually settle in sandy terrain (beach sand), preferring hard and rocky surfaces.


As it is a new scenario and a species that is still rare on the Brazilian coast, the bodies involved in the investigation of the accident on the coast of Ceará and the specialists who are following the records of the animal in the country recommend, initially, that fishermen and workers in notified areas use personal protective equipment (PPE), especially footwear.

For bathers in these areas, there is no reason to panic. Lionfish do not attack. The animal was accidentally stepped on. Anyone who finds the species should avoid touching it. The ideal thing is for the person to move away and make a note of the time and place of the appearance of the animal, informing Sema by e-mail scientist [email protected].

In case of injury with lionfish spines, the fundamental recommendation is to keep the affected area of ​​the body in hot water for 30 to 40 minutes. The venom causes ischemic pain by constricting blood vessels, which can be relieved by heat. If there is fever, very intense pain and a trace of infection, seek a health unit for adequate medication.

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