Mourners at a funeral held in northern Thailand last Friday had an extra reason for sadness, according to a report in the Bangkok Post. The soup that they were served at the funeral contained fish balls made using puffer fish.
More than 300 villagers who attended the funeral complained of "...numb tongues, breathing difficulty and diarrhoea..." after eating the fish balls. Ninety of the victims taken to hospital for treatment; 32 remain hospitalized.
Importation, raising and sale of puffer fish is banned in Thailand. Nevertheless, it is still used on occasion – albeit illegally – to make fish balls, since it is less expensive than most other types of fish.
Puffer fish, also known as fugu, is considered a delicacy in Japan, but can be deadly if not prepared correctly. The toxin it contains is not damaged or inactivated by heating.
All of the victims of this incident are expected to recover.