Archive for the ‘Tetrodotoxin’ Category

Toxins #5 – Fugu Poisoning

December 29, 2006

Pufferfish Poisoning = Fugu:

Even though it is a bit exotic, no blog on fish poisoning would be complete without a discussion of Takifugu, a Japanese delicacy.

This is a more of an intentional than accidental poisoning, in that someone purposely ate a fish that they knew was toxic and could potentially kill them. 

But, they ate it anyway.

In the wilderness setting, someone would have to catch a pufferfish and then decide to eat it. 

In the process they could get fugu poisoning.

Fugu, or to be exact, Takifugu, is a pufferfish that is commonly found in oceans between the latitudes of 45N and 45S. 

When approached by a predator, if inflates itself to 2 -4 times its normal size. 

As a further defense, it also contains a deadly poison – Tetrodotoxin in its internal organs, sex organs, and skin. 

In order to serve this “delicacy,” you have to be a specially trained and licensed fugu chef. 


Tetrodotoxin or anhydrotetrodotoxin 4-epitetrodotoxin, is a neurotoxin that is 1200 times deadlier than cyanide.
It causes paralysis of the muscles but leaves the victim fully conscious as they die of asphyxiation.
The pufferfish does not produce the toxin but instead harbors a Pseudomonas bacteria in its tissues that elaborates the tetrodotoxin.

Symptoms of Fugu poisoning:

History – they have recently been eating pufferfish
Onset is rapid – minutes
Muscular paralysis
Dyspnea and respiratory failure

Treatment of Fugu poisoning:

Support respiratory and circulatory systems until the effects of the tetrodotoxin
wears off.

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