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‘Never eat pufferfish! ’-PHO

By Connie Calipay

LEGAZPI CITY —- The Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5) reported on Friday that at least three persons died while four were hospitalized due to food poisoning on Wednesday in Libon, Albay.

In a report, Lt. Col. Malu Calubaquib, PRO5 spokesperson, said the seven victims from Barangay Tambo ate pufferfish locally known as "butete" that one family member caught.

Based on the report of the Libon Municipal Police Station, the fatalities were two male fishers aged 36 and 49, and the latter's 47-year-old wife.

Those who survived and being treated at the Bicol Regional Hospital and Medical Center were a seamstress, 23; a housewife, 21; and two students aged 13 and 10.

"After eating, after a few minutes, they experienced stomach ache and vomiting. They were rushed to Pantao District Hospital for medical attention. The four victims who survived were transferred to the Bicol Regional Hospital and Medical Center in Legazpi City for further medical attention and monitoring," Calubaquib said.

Due to the incident, the Albay Provincial Health Office (PHO) issued an advisory telling the public to avoid eating pufferfish as it is poisonous and could kill those who consume it.

According to the World Health Organization, "butete" carries a toxin called "tetrodotoxin", found in its ovary, liver, intestines, skin, and sometimes in the muscles.

The symptoms of poisoning due to pufferfish ingestion include numbness of the lips and mouth, body weakness, salivation, stomach pain, and vomiting. If left untreated, the poison can cause paralysis, difficulty breathing, and death within four to eight hours.

The Albay PHO said "butete" poisoning has no cure, only the symptoms could be treated. "If you suspect that you feel any of the above symptoms after eating 'butete', immediately go to the nearest hospital," its advisory said.

"The public is also reminded that the sale and distribution of 'butete' as food is prohibited by the Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) based on Fisheries Administrative Order No. 249 Series of 2014," it added. (PNA)


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