Eleven members of the same family have reportedly been hospitalised after unwittingly cooking and eating a deadly pufferfish.
The Souza family from Brazil were gifted the fish – the world’s most deadly – by a friend who had been sailing off Dubque de Caxias.
The fish contains tetrodotoxin, a lethal poison that in even the smallest quantities can cause respiratory paralysis within six to 24 hours.
Clearly not realising this, the Souzas prepared the fish for a meal and began feeling the effects almost immediately after their family lunch on Wednesday, Brazil’s Globo news site reports.
Tetrodotoxin is up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide, the National Geographic says, adding there is enough toxin in one pufferfish to kill 30 adult humans.
There is no known antidote to the poison.
Cristiane Souza told Brazil’s RJ TV: “The fish looks so tasty so we incited the whole family. We fried it and everyone tucked in.
“My husband was the first to say he couldn’t feel his tongue, then his face and then his arms. Then his legs went dead and he couldn’t stand up any more. It was terrifying.
“My brother-in-law was the same. He didn’t even make it out the door. We had to carry them out and rush them to hospital in a car.”
Grandmother Maria do Carmo said: “We had no idea it was a pufferfish. They’ll all in a critical condition. My grandson, my daughter and my son-in-law, they are all in hospital. We’re praying for a miracle.”
Surprisingly, despite its terrifying reputation meat – known in Japan as fugu - is considered a delicacy, but may only be prepared by trained, licensed chefs.