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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Toxic crabs prove fatal

Toxic crabs prove fatal

A 21-year-old man died and two others became severely ill after eating horseshoe crabs in Kampot province’s Kampong Bay commune last week.

“They were sent to the provincial hospital.... but one man could not be helped because he ate a lot [of crabs], but the other two were saved and are still alive,” said commune chief Nuth Nhem, adding that the men had fished the crabs out of the sea.  

A police officer in Kampot town who declined to be named identified the deceased as Phatt Sith, and the two recovering in hospital as Phatt Lann, 16, and Sim Soklich, 14.

According to a study published in the Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health in 1995, horseshoe crabs can be toxic to humans during certain times of the year because of the presence of tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin, present in the crabs’ eggs.

The report noted that 71 people in Thailand’s coastal Chon Buri province were poisoned by consuming horseshoe crab eggs. Two deaths were reported.

Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting and respiratory paralysis, the report also stated.

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