Boy, six, dies after family eat puffer fish stew on island near Lapu-lapu City

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puffer fish

A six-year-old boy died while seven members of his family fell ill after eating a puffer fish on an islet off Lapu-Lapu City.

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Margie Casiao said her husband, Florencio and one of their children cooked “linarang nga tikong” — or sour and spicy stewed puffer fish — along with some crabs and fish for the family’s breakfast yesterday (Tuesday, March 26).

The parents and their children — Gian, aged 12; Miles, 10; Derek, nine; Mateo, five; Seantol, four, and Maria Terissa, two, — ate the seafood at 7am.

By noon, the entire family started to feel dizzy and began vomiting. The mother then went to seek help after Mateo fell unconscious. He was later confirmed dead at the family home.

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Neighbours of the family took them all to the Santa Rosa District Hospital on Olango Island.

After learning that the family ate puffer fish, hospital staff administered them activated charcoal powder to neutralise the toxins in their body.

The family was later taken to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Centre (VSMMC) in Cebu City hours later for further treatment.

The parents have since discharged themselves in order to prepare for the funeral of their five-year-old son.

Lolie Boy Terana, desk officer of Lapu-Lapu City Police Office’s Police Station 1 based on Olango Island, said it was Gian who cleaned and gutted the puffer fish — known locally as ‘butete’ — before cooking.

In a press conference, VSMMC Paediatrics chief Dr Ramon Najarro said they had extracted blood from the couple and their children to be sent to the toxicology centre of the Department of Health in Manila.

The laboratory exam will help determine what caused the poisoning.

Dr Najarro added that the family members are being monitored around the clock to determine if they indeed ingested deadly tetrodotoxin from the puffer fish.

He said ingesting tetrodotoxin could cause neuroparalysis and hypoventilation, among other symptoms, within 24 hours of being eaten.

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