PAGADIAN CITY—Two of 17 people sent to hospital after eating puffer fish, or butete, were kept confined at an Ozamiz City hospital even as the 15 other poisoning victims had been discharged, according to a health official in this city.
Brixlyjun Go, disease surveillance officer of the Ozamiz City health office, said the two were kept in hospital because they were the worst hit by the poisoning.
They have been identified as Armando Santander Sr., 53, who was unconscious when brought to the Mayor HIlarion Ramiro Sr. Medical Center, and Sabas Mejias, 51, who had been paralyzed by the fish’s toxins.
The two were already in stable condition but Santander is being kept at the hospital’s intensive care unit while Mejias was still suffering from nausea.
Go said Santander had regained consciousness on Saturday (Aug. 10) and was recovering.
The two men were the most hit by puffer fish toxin, called tetrodoxin which is up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide, according to National Geographic. One puffer fish carries enough toxin to kill 30 adults and there is no known antidote, the NatGeo web site said.
The poisoning victims were rushed to the hospital on Thursday (Aug. 8) after eating puffer fish cooked in coconut milk.
Go said one victim told him that the people brought to hospital had eaten puffer fish before but didn’t suffer from the poisoning symptoms—nausea, numbness, abdominal cramps and vomiting. The people were aware of puffer fish’s poisonous character but mistakenly included the fish’s internal organs during cooking.
“The puffer fish was pregnant,” said Go. “So they included its internal organs when they cooked the dish. They already know before that is should have been removed,” he said.
Puffer fish is a delicacy in Japan where trained chefs carefully prepare the fish for sushi or sashimi to serve diners looking for adventure. Some diners are believed to crave puffer fish if they wanted to feel the nonlethal effects of its poison. Leah Agonoy/TSB
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