The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (September 25) investigating a case of puffer fish poisoning affecting a man aged 59 and hence reminds members of the public not to consume puffer fish.

Puffer fish Public domain photo/Jh12 via wikimedia commons
Puffer fish
Public domain photo/Jh12 via wikimedia commons

The patient developed tingling and numbness in limbs as well as dizziness and vomiting about two hours after consuming a puffer fish given by his friend for lunch at home on September 23. He attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Tuen Mun Hospital on the same day and was subsequently admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. He is currently in stable condition after treatment.

Investigations by the CHP are continuing.

A spokesman for the CHP explained that consumption of puffer fish is the main cause of food poisoning from tetrodotoxin. Tetrodotoxin is a potent water-soluble neurotoxin that can affect the central nervous system.

“Organs such as the liver, gonads and skin of puffer fish have high concentrations of tetrodotoxin. Being heat-stable, the toxin does not decompose upon cooking, boiling, drying or freezing. Tetrodotoxin intoxication can cause problems in respiration or circulation and is potentially fatal. There is no known antidote or antitoxin. The public is advised to avoid purchasing and preparing puffer fish or unknown fish for consumption themselves to prevent tetrodotoxin-related food poisoning,” the spokesman added.