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Haff Disease

From fillets to sushi, there are plenty of ways to enjoy fish. But occasionally, fish contain toxins. In rare instances, certain types of fish can cause haff disease—a potentially serious condition that leads to muscle breakdown. The sooner you identify and treat your condition, the better.

IPC urges you to seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing symptoms of muscle inflammation, pain, stiffness or brown urine.

If you enjoy catching fish and cooking it, take note: Most reported cases of haff disease are linked to freshwater fish. Past cases have also been linked to buffalo fish found in the Mississippi River. If you suspect fish is contaminated, it’s important to contact IPC at 1-800-222-1222. We’ll help identify the source and work with local authorities to ensure the fish is removed from sale to prevent a public health emergency.

How do you get haff disease?

  • Consuming contaminated buffalo fish, salmon, crayfish and carp
  • Note: Cooking the fish does not destroy the toxin.

Symptoms typically appear within 24 hours:

  • Muscle inflammation, pain and stiffness
  • Brown urine

What to do

  • Immediately seek medical attention
  • Once you have received medical attention, notify your local health department
  • Drink lots of water

IPC is here to help. Calls to our helpline, 1-800-222-1222, are free and confidential. Toxicology experts are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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