A woman died on Sunday, and three of her family members were hospitalised after eating discarded, poisonous pufferfish in Banteay Meanchey province, local police said on Monday.
Touch Loch, 39, her two daughters and a nephew became sick after eating the fish in Srah Lech village in Preah Netr Preah district’s Preah Netr Preah commune.
“District and commune authorities have issued regular warnings but people still eat the poisonous pufferfish,” district police chief Meas Rithy told The Post.
Commune police chief Lot Monny said the daughters and the nephew were sent to Preah Netr Preah Referral Hospital and their health had improved after they received medical treatment.
He said the three should be able to return home soon, but doctors wanted to them to stay in the hospital a little longer before discharging them.
“Villagers went fishing and caught some poisonous pufferfish which were thrown away."
“The victim found some 10 to 20 pufferfish. The fishermen told her not to eat the fish because the fish were poisonous. The victim said she would be fine,” Monny said.
One of the daughters told police that last Friday her father went to work as a harvesting machine operator, while her mother found the pufferfish and cooked them.
Two days after eating them, nothing was wrong. But on Sunday, Loch started to feel unwell, experiencing nausea and suffering from a bad headache. She was sent to Preah Netr Preah Referral Hospital where she died shortly after arriving.
After that, Loch’s daughters and nephew also fell ill, with symptoms including nausea and a high temperature. They were sent to the hospital on the same day.
The Ministry of Health has previously stated that there are 10 types of pufferfish, of which five are poisonous – redeye puffer, Monotrete cochinchinensis, green spotted puffer, eyespot puffer and Tetraodon fluviatilis, also known as green puffer.
The ministry said the level of poison increases during their reproduction period between February and March, and July and August.
The most dangerous parts of the fish, the ministry said, are eggs and sperm, followed by liver, intestines, skin and meat.
Symptoms include itchy lips and mouth, headache, dizziness, speech disorder, nausea and diarrhoea, which will usually occur from 20 minutes to two hours after eating.