Malaysian woman dies from poisoning after eating puffer fish

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash
Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

An elderly woman who had eaten puffer fish on Saturday is thought to have been poisoned and died as a result.

The 83-year-old woman began experiencing shortness of breath and shivering, and an hour later, at around 3pm, after eating the fish at noon, her husband began exhibiting the same symptoms, according to Ling Tian Soon, chairman of the Johor health committee.

“The couple were taken to the Enche’ Besar Hajjah Khalsom Hospital, Kluang by their children who live separately before the wife was pronounced dead at 7pm, the same day.

“The case is classified as food poisoning caused by puffer fish. 

“In fact, the ‘cause of death’ is given as ‘food poisoning with neurological manifestation resulting in respiratory failure with cardiac dysrhythmia possibly due to ciguatera toxin or tetradotoxin ingestion’, from the puffer fish,” he said in a statement last night.

According to Ling, this was the first time the couple, who lived on Jalan Sin Tiam Chamek in Kluang, ate puffer fish-based dishes after pre-ordering them from a seller on Facebook.

However, he stated that no new reports regarding the case had been received as of yet and that all fish sold on that date had already been taken by the District Health Office in question for analysis.

“Further investigation found that the fresh puffer fish was obtained from fishermen in Endau, Mersing before being taken by wholesalers to be processed in Batu Pahat and then distributed to customers based on orders.

“I would like to remind the people of Johor to be careful in choosing food especially if it has risks,” said Ling, who added that the woman’s husband is still being treated in the ICU.

As pufferfish contain a deadly poison, improper preparation will result in food poisoning and can lead to death.

The main point of preparing it is to remove all signs of tetrodotoxin, which is generally found everywhere but the flesh. Tetrodotoxin is rapid and violent, causing numbness around the mouth, paralysis, and finally death. It is said to be 1,000 times more potent than cyanide and there is of course no antidote.

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