Councilor warns public of deadly risks of eating pufferfish

The puffer fish known locally as burrow when properly cooked is a delicacy for Cebuanos, but when undercooked it can be deadly, as one family on the island experienced of Olango where the mother died and several family members were hospitalized after eating the fish they had prepared for breakfast in August. 3, 2020. | Photo added

LAPU-LAPU City, Philippines – A Lapu-Lapu City Council councilor has warned the public against eating puffer fish (burial) after a 57-year-old mother died as several of her family members was admitted to hospital after eating the fish on Wednesday morning August 3, 2022.

Councilor Annabeth Cuizon, head of the social services committee, was referring to the family, who were poisoned by the puffer fish, which they ate for breakfast that day, in Barangay Caubian on the island from Olango.

“We ka pamilyahan the nangahilo in gahapon diha burial in caubian island. Mag amping ta ninyo labi na sa pagluto aning buriring,” Cuizon said on Thursday, August 4.

(A family was poisoned after eating pufferfish in Caubian. Let’s be careful how that pufferfish is cooked.)

According to a 2019 CDN Digital report, puffer fish, which is a poisonous type of fish commonly found in tropical seas, is a delicacy among Cebuano people if properly prepared by a trained cook – where poisonous sacs will be extracted without contaminating any parts of that fish.

But it could be deadly if not prepared properly.

Dr. Beethoven Bongon, toxicologist from the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), said in the CDN report that pufferfish contain toxins called tetrodotoxin which, if ingested, can attack a human’s neurological system, usually manifesting as numbness and severe paralysis in different parts of the body .

Bongon, who was questioned in 2019 when a family living in one of Olango’s islets was hospitalized after eating puffer fish for breakfast, said there was no antidote to tetrodotoxin.

LILY: VSMMC doctors examine causes other than pufferfish in food poisoning of 8 family members

In the latest “puffer fish poisoning”, the Lapu-Lapu City Police Bureau identified the deceased as Romana Evardo.

Police also said family members of the Evardo family were also hospitalized at the Sta. Rosa Community Hospital after eating puffer fish for breakfast that day.

Police identified them as Romana’s husband, Reynaldo, 57; and six other family members – Eugene, 32; Joseph, 30; Jordan, 28; and three minors aged 9, 5 and 4 years old.

In an interview, Dr. Eris Augusto, head of Sta. Rosa Community Hospital, said the mother ate the pufferfish’s internal organ, where the toxins/poisons were presumably located.

“Ang mama nakakaon siya sa gitawag nga sud sa tinai or katung bihod nakaon sa mama. So as stated the story of the amahan ug anak – mao tuy nakaingon nga nahilo siyag dali, grabe ang pagkahilo,” Augusto said.

(The mother had eaten what was called the inside of the fish. That’s what the father and one of the adult children said – that’s why the mother was quickly poisoned [after eating the fish].)

Police investigation showed that the husband, who was a fisherman, had caught the puffer fish that morning.

They then cooked it and ate it for breakfast.

A few hours later, the family fell ill and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Cuizon said she had previously visited the victims and provided them with assistance.

“Human nato maistorya ang usa sa pamilya, iyang gi-ingon nga buriring nga gagmay ug tunok,” Cuizon added.

(After talking to one of the family members, she said the puffer fish they ate was a small fish with little spikes.) | with CDN digital report

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