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83-year-old Malaysian woman dies after eating a pufferfish delicacy; husband in ICU

An 83-year-old woman from Malaysia died after consuming pufferfish, while her husband is being treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after experiencing similar symptoms. The incident took place in Johor province, around 280 km southeast of Kuala Lumpur. The couple had purchased the fish from a local fishmonger whom they had been buying fish from for many years. Their daughter, Ng Ai Lee, stated that her father would not have knowingly put their lives in danger by buying something deadly to eat. She also said that she is prepared for the worst in terms of her father’s critical condition.

After cleaning and cooking the fish for lunch, the woman, Lim Siew Guan, began experiencing shivering sensations and breathing difficulties, while her husband started showing similar symptoms an hour later. Their son then rushed them to the hospital, but the woman was pronounced dead by medical professionals. The cause of death was identified as food poisoning with neurological manifestation resulting in respiratory failure with cardiac dysrhythmia, possibly due to ciguatera toxin or tetrodotoxin ingestion from the pufferfish. No such cases of pufferfish consumption-related casualties were reported in Johor, and as a precautionary measure, all fish sold on that date was taken by the District Health Office (PDK) for analysis. The local administration urged people to be careful in choosing food, especially if it has risks.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, pufferfish is a popular Japanese delicacy that may contain the potent and deadly toxins tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin. These toxins cannot be destroyed even by cooking or freezing. Traditionally, only highly qualified chefs who have been trained in removing these toxins are allowed to serve the fish.


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