J Korean Med Sci.  2018 Sep;33(38):e235. 10.3346/jkms.2018.33.e235.

An Outbreak of Scombroid Fish Poisoning Associated with Consumption of Yellowtail Fish in Seoul, Korea

  • 1Environmental Health Division, Seoul Metropolitan Government, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Division of Health Management, Seongbuk-gu Public Health Center, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Disease Research, Seoul Institute of Public Health and Environment, Seoul, Korea.
  • 4Department of Epidemiology, Seoul National University Graduate School of Public Health, Seoul, Korea. scho@snu.ac.kr


In November 2016, an outbreak of scombroid fish poisoning occurred among elementary school students in Seoul, Korea. An epidemiological investigation was conducted to identify the cause and source of the illness.
A case-control study was conducted among school members who had eaten lunch in the school. The histamine level in the suspect food item (yellowtail steak) was measured.
Fifty-five (5.4%) of 1,017 school members who consumed fish for lunch fell ill. The principal symptoms were flushing (100%) and headache (72.7%); the median incubation period was 40 minutes. All had consumed yellowtail steak (odds ratio, 9.24; 95% confidence interval, 1.22-69.91). Leftover steak had an elevated histamine level (293 mg/kg), higher than the allowed 200 mg/kg.
An outbreak of scombroid fish poisoning was confirmed; this is the first such report in Korea. Detailed food safety guidelines must be established.


Scombroid Fish Poisoning; Histamine; Food Poisoning; Foodborne Outbreak; Seoul Metropolitan Government
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