Pufferfish meal kills 2, hospitalizes 3 in central Vietnam

TN News

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Two fishermen died and three others were hospitalized with serious poisoning after eating pufferfish in the central province of Binh Thuan on Thursday.

One of the survivors' wife told Thanh Nien that the fishermen had the fish for lunch that day when they were working on a boat some 40 sea miles off the coast of Phan Thiet Town.

Around 30 minutes later, they all started vomiting and feeling dizziness, she said.

The boat's owner then rushed them to a hospital in the town, but Pham Van Hoang, 21, and Tran Van Manh, 20, died on the way.

Bui Van Hoa, 26, To Trung Kien, 23, and Phe Van Ot, 36, were hospitalized unconscious due to "critical intoxication," Dr. Pham Ngoc Hung, director of the An Phuoc General Hospital, was quoted as saying in Phap Luat TPHCM (HCMC Law).

Their conditions stabilized later that same day.

The news report said 12 people were on the boat that day, but only the five who got sick ate the fish.

Hundreds of deaths caused by pufferfish, which contains the lethal substance, tetrodotoxin, have been reported in Vietnam over years, so local health authorities have issued numerous warnings against the deadly fish. 

However, regardless of the warnings, Vietnamese fishermen believe that it is safe to eat the fish, as long as they remove its internal organs and skin, which they believe contain the toxin, according to a study by the Institute of Oceanography in the central resort town of Nha Trang.

The study found that of 17 species of pufferfish that live in Vietnamese waters, eight have the toxic substance which is highly poisonous that its amount in one fish can kill 30 adult humans.

It is estimated that there are more than 120 species of the fish worldwide.

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