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Question
Posted by: Kerry | 2005/01/13

Fish who eat human flesh

I know this sounds like I am a little nuts, but what I want to know is that a warning has been issued to Tsunami victims to not start fishing, as the fish have been contaminated.

What we eat passes through us and the same goes for fish. What harm could eating these fish have on humans.

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Our expert says:
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Fears about fish being contaminated as a result of the tsunami are unfounded. Fish do eat corpses, but decomposing bodies are not the first choice for most species. Marine scientists think that the tsunami has churned up more of the kind of food (like plankton and other small organisms) that fish normally eat, so they may be less likely to feed on the corpses. Even if they do eat human flesh, it’s unlikely that this would make someone who then eats the fish sick – especially if the fish has been properly cooked.

The risk of eating shellfish like crabs and crayfish (which do normally scavenge corpses) may be somewhat higher, as some of the bodies could have been infected with bacteria (e.g. cholera), although the risk is probably about the same as shellfish exposed to contaminated sewage anywhere else in the world.

The other concern was that fish in the area may have ingested heavy metals churned up from the seabed by the earthquake, but the expert consensus is that this type of contamination would take a long time, and the effect on human health would be minimal.

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