A 46-year-old Brazilian man died after cooking and eating a poisonous pufferfish that his friend had gifted to him. According to the New York Post, a pufferfish – also known as blowfish – contains venom that can kill as many as 30 humans.
In an interview with Newsflash, Myrian Gomes Lopes said that her brother Magno Sergio Gomes had to be intubated and placed on life support when his condition aggravated after he consumed pufferfish. Magno was hospitalized for 35 days before he died on January 27.
“Magno had never cleaned pufferfish before,” Myrian said. Magno is said to have received the poisonous pufferfish as a present from a friend. And though Magno and his friend had never prepared that poisonous seafood before, they proceeded to remove its internal organs before cooking and then eating it with lemon juice.
An hour had not passed when Magno and his friend became critically sick after consuming the fish. “Magno started to feel numb in his mouth,” Myrian said.
Magno managed to go to the hospital by himself, but the numbness aggravated – causing him to suffer an 8-minute cardiac arrest. Magno’s condition was reportedly caused by tetrodotoxin poisoning.
Per the US Centers for Disease Control, tetrodotoxin is an “extremely potent poison (toxin) found mainly in the liver and sex organs (gonads) of some fish, such as puffer fish, globefish, and toadfish (order Tetraodontiformes) and in some amphibian, octopus, and shellfish species.”
The CDC adds: “Human poisonings occur when the flesh and/or organs of the fish are improperly prepared and eaten. Tetrodotoxin interferes with the transmission of signals from nerves to muscles and causes an increasing paralysis of the muscles of the body.”
Tetrodotoxin, per the National Library of Medicine, is also “produced by the creature as a protection mechanism for predators.” “TTX, one of the most powerful neurotoxins known, it is about 1200 times more toxic to humans than cyanide and it has no known antidote,” it adds.
Tetrodotoxin poisoning can also be fatal. “The doctors told our family that he died from poisoning, which had quickly traveled to his head,” Myrian said. “Three days after being admitted, he had several seizures, which greatly affected his brain, leaving little chance of recovery.”
Magno’s friend did not die, though he is experiencing mobility issues. “He’s not walking very well,” Myrian said, per the New York Post. “He was neurologically impacted, but he is recovering.”
There are 20 pufferfish species in Brazil, and 12 of them are found in the state of Espirito Santa. The poisonous fish is also a delicacy in Japan. Known as fugu in the Asian nation, the fish is only prepared by chefs who have obtained a license to do so and also sell it. That is because of the deadly toxin that is found in the seafood.