Elderly woman dies after eating puffer fish in Johor, was trying it for the first time
An elderly woman in Johor died after eating puffer fish, while her husband remains hospitalised in the intensive care unit.
The 83-year-old and her husband, 84, had ordered the fish from a fishmonger through Facebook, reported Sin Chew Daily, and they received their order last Saturday (March 25).
“They cleaned and cooked the fish for lunch at around 3pm, the woman started shivering and having breathing difficulties,” Johor health and unity committee chairman Ling Tian Soon told The Star on Tuesday.
“About an hour later, her husband began displaying similar symptoms.”
The couple’s son immediately brought them to a local hospital for treatment.
“The woman was pronounced dead at around 7pm while her husband is still in the ICU,” adding that it was the couple’s first time eating puffer fish — which is known to have poisonous parts.
He shared that the fishmonger is based in Batu Pahat, and had sold 15kg of the same fish to four other customers in nearby districts Chamek and Paloh.
“Besides the couple, the other customers have yet to consume the fish but the Health Department has obtained samples of the fish from the seller for analysis.
“The public are advised to be careful about what they consume, especially when it comes to food with known risks.”
Dangers of consuming pufferfish
Puffer fish, also known as ‘fugu’, is a popular delicacy in Japan.
However, it also contains a lethal toxin known as tetrodotoxin (TTX), which cannot be destroyed by simply cooking the fish, according to the Singapore Food Agency.
Poisonous parts of the fish differ from one kind of fugu to another.
Although Japanese chefs are required to obtain a special permit to prepare the fish, the consumption of fugu still kills several people in Japan each year, with dozens more dozens more suffering non-fatal side effects.
When TTX enters the body, it binds to the nerves, stopping them from working and the person become paralysed, unable to breathe and can suffocate to death.
Individuals who have consumed pufferfish and experience symptoms like tingling, numbness, and any form of paralysis, should seek medical attention immediately.