KLUANG: An elderly woman cooked fish for herself and her husband for lunch, but the meal left the 83-year-old woman dead and her husband fighting for his life in the intensive care unit (ICU).
The fish they had bought was the deadly pufferfish.
The woman and her 84-year-old husband, from Jalan Sin Tiam, Chamek here had bought the fish via social media and received the item on Saturday morning.
“They cleaned and cooked the pufferfish for lunch and around 3pm, the woman started experiencing breathing difficulties and shivers.
“Her husband also began displaying similar symptoms about an hour later,” said Johor health and unity committee chairman Ling Tian Soon.
“Their son, who stays nearby, rushed both of them to Hospital Enche’ Hajjah Kalsom’s emergency unit for help but the woman died at around 7pm the same day,” he said.
The husband is still receiving treatment in the ICU.
It is understood that this was the first time the couple had tried pufferfish.
Ling said the fish was traced to a fisherman from Endau, Mersing, who sold it to a distributor in Batu Pahat for processing.
“The online seller, also from Batu Pahat, then sold 15kg of pufferfish to four customers in Chamek, Paloh (four) and Yong Peng (one) the same day,” he said.
The other customers have yet to consume the pufferfish which has since been seized by the the Health Department in the Kluang and Batu Pahat districts.
Pufferfish, known as Fugu in Japan, can be deadly unless properly prepared. They contain potent toxins which can cause severe illness and death.
These toxins, which affect the central nervous system, are said to be more deadly than cyanide.
In Japan, only restaurants with highly qualified chefs who know how to remove the toxins, serve the dish.
“The cause of death was identified as food poisoning with neurological manifestation resulting in respiratory failure and irregular heart rate, possibly due to toxin ingestion,” said Ling.
“The supplier has also been told to stop obtaining and selling pufferfish.”
He expressed his condolences to the deceased woman’s family and advised the public to be careful about what they consume, especially when it comes to food with known risks.