Original Articles

Puffer fish tragedy in Bangladesh: an incident of Takifugu oblongus poisoning in Degholia, Khulna


Abstract

Puffer fish poisoning that occurs occasionally among the rural poor in Bangladesh is mainly caused by freshwater species. A food poisoning incident resulting from the ingestion of the marine puffer Takifugu oblongus occurred at Degholia in the Khulna district of Bangladesh on 18 May 2002. A total of 36 victims, including seven deaths, from six families was reported. The victims suffered from dyspnoea, numbness of lips, paralysis, and stomach ache followed by vomiting — symptoms that resemble those caused by tetrodotoxin or paralytic shellfish poisoning. Six days after the incident, 10 specimens of T. oblongus were collected from the area affected by the poisoning and their toxicity was determined. High levels of toxicity, expressed as mouse units (MU), were measured in the gonads (2–132MU g−1), with comparatively low levels in the other tissues such as the skin, muscle and liver (<2.0–31.3MU g−1). Although tetrodotoxin was implicated, the actual toxins involved have yet to be purified and identified.

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