3 dead after eating puffer fish in Tabango town

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Tacloban City (CNN Philippines, December 29) —Three residents in Tabango, Leyte died due to food poisoning after eating puffer fish, locally known as “butete.”

The victims are residents of Sitio Patay, Brgy. Tabing, Tabango, according to a report from the Tabango Municipal Police Station.

Four other individuals they ate with were also hospitalized due to food poisoning.

Initial police investigation showed one of those who died cooked puffer fish on Monday and offered it for free to customers of his barbeque stand business. They reportedly ate the liver and experienced extreme vomiting and loss of consciousness. They were brought at the Tabango District Hospital but were pronounced dead on arrival.

Meanwhile, the four other hospitalized victims also suffered symptoms. One of them has already recovered and is now home, while three are still in the hospital but are in stable condition.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has warned that several puffer fish species contain a highly lethal neurotoxin called “tetrodotoxin.” Ingestion of this substance “can rapidly cause malaise, dizziness, and tingling about the mouth, which may be followed by ataxia, convulsions, respiratory paralysis, and death.”

The bureau said the toxin is usually found in the internal organs of the fish. The ovary and liver are most dangerous, but other parts are also toxic in many puffer fish species, while some have toxin even in skin, blood and bones, it added.

Tacloban-based CNN Philippines correspondent Wil Mark Amazona contributed to this report.