An 83-year-old woman in Malaysia died after eating a puffer fish while her husband is still being treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Citing a local media outlet, the New York Post reported that the incident took place on March 25 in Johor. The couple's daughter, Ng Ai Lee, said her father purchased the puffer fish - a delicacy known to contain extremely potent poisons - from a local shop.
"My parents have been buying fish from the same fishmonger for many years, so my father did not think twice about it," Ms said, as per the Post. "He would not have knowingly bought something so deadly to eat and put their lives in danger," she added.
Separately, Johor's health and unity committee chairman, Ling Tian Soon said that shortly after the couple cleaned and cooked the fish for lunch, the woman, identified as Lim Siew Guan, began to shiver and experience breathing difficulties. Her husband also began displaying similar symptoms about an hour later, Mr Soon added.
The couple's son then rushed them to the hospital, however, that evening his mother was pronounced dead. "The 'cause of death' is given as 'food poisoning with neurological manifestation resulting in respiratory failure with cardiac dysrhythmia possibly due to ciguatera toxin or tetrodotoxin ingestion,' from the puffer fish," Mr Soon said in a statement, as per Newsweek.
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Further, the official went on to say that no new report has been received regarding the case and that all fish sold on that date had been taken by the District Health Office (PDK) for analysis. He also urged people to be careful in choosing food especially if it has risks.
Speaking to the media outlet, the couple's daughter said her father is in a coma in the intensive care unit. "I am prepared for the worst because the doctor told us that even if he is able to pull through the ordeal, he might not be the same any more, due to his old age," she added.
Notably, according to the Food and Drug Administration, puffer fish, which is a popular Japanese delicacy, may contain the potent and deadly toxins tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin, which cannot be destroyed by cooking or freezing. Usually, only highly qualified chefs, who have been trained in how to remove these toxins, are allowed to serve the fish.