Boy dies after eating puffer fish

Published March 27, 2019, 7:17 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Calvin Cordova

CEBU CITY—A five-year-old boy died while his parents and his four siblings were hospitalized after they ate puffer fish locally known as butete in Panganan Island, Lapu-Lapu City.

The victims complained of dizziness after they consumed stewed puffer fish that the mother cooked last Tuesday afternoon.

Mateo Casio died at home while the other family members were hospitalized, said PO1 Loliboy Terana of the Olango Island Police Station.

Taken to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Hospital in Cebu City where the boy’s father, Florencio, 38; his mother Margie, 35; and his siblings Gian,12; Miler, 10; Deric, 9; Shantol, 5; and Maria Teresa, 3.

Terana said the puffer fish was caught Florencio last Monday night. Margie then cooked it as their viand for lunch last Tuesday.

Terana said residents of the island traditionally eat butete.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Central Visayas (BFAR) warned it is unsafe to eat any kind of puffer fish.

Alma Saavedra, regional BFAR information officer, said puffer fish contains tetrodotoxin, a toxic substance that can kill humans if consumed.

Tetrodotoxin can be found in the liver of puffer fish.

Saveedra said some residents continue to eat the fish saying it is safe as long as it is cleaned properly.

“Pufferfish is poisonous. We are advising the public not to eat the fish even if they know how to remove the toxin. Even if you clean it thoroughly, there is no guarantee that all the toxins are removed,” said Saavedra.

Selling puffer fish is prohibited under the  Fisheries Administrative Order 249 in 2014.