Public warned against consumption of puffer fish

The Fisheries Commission has cautioned the public against the harvesting and consumption of the puffer fish, following the recent death of some residents in the Volta Region.

According to Dr Peter Zedah, the Aquatic Animal Health Specialist of the Commission, though the poisonous fish was a delicacy worldwide, especially Asia, it required a special skill and license to make it wholesome.

In an interview with the Ghanaian Times, yesterday, he said it was evident, following the recent tragedy, that Ghanaian fish processors lacked the expertise; and that it was advisable to avoid it totally, to save lives.

He said the commission was collaborating with the Ministry of Fisheries, public health authorities and other stakeholders in the region to investigate the incident and intensify its education to the public on the dangers of consuming the fish locally called “Gedde”

“The commission would continue to educate the public on the dangers of the fish since it is not mandated to storm the market and confiscate the fishes”, he added.

He said the recent incident was an attestation that there was imminent danger in the fisheries industry which called for concerted efforts to address, and called for public support.

Five people mostly in Kpando, Alavanyo, and Tokor communities in the Volta Region died last week with at least 22 others hospitalised after consuming the puffer fish.

The situation has since created panic among Ghanaians, especially affected areas.

The poisonous fish is said to contain tetrodotoxin, a substance that makes it foul tasting and often lethal to humans.  The substance is 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide.

There are about 120 known species of puffer fish, the second most poisonous creature on the planet after the Golden Poison Frog, according to aquatic biologists.

The Puffer fish is found in tropical waters, but they rarely go into the cooler waters.

Puffer is of a family of chiefly tropical scales marine.

Meanwhile  Alberto Mario Noretti, reports from Ho that the incident which claimed the lives of five people who ate puffer fish in four communities in the Volta Region last week has subsided.

The Deputy Volta Regional Director of Health in-charge of Public Health, Dr Yaw Ofori Yeboah said in an interview in Ho yesterday that out of the 26 cases recorded, only two were now on admission at the Margaret Marquat Hospital in Kpando with the symptoms.

“They are receiving treatment and are in very stable conditions”, he added.

According to Dr Yeboah, 13 of the cases were from Alavanyo, four from Gbefi, five from Kpando-Torkor and four from Sovie.

He said that the cases involved people between the ages of two and 55.

In addition, he gave the assurance that the Kpando Municipal Health Emergency Management Committee had carried out a vigorous public campaign on the dangers of eating puffer fish, while the assembly’s task force was strictly enforcing an order to keep the fish off the market.

Dr Yeboah said that so far, there had been no new food poisoning cases.

However, he appealed to people who suffer from dizziness, vomiting and general weakness which were the symptoms from consuming puffer fish to report promptly at the hospital for early attention.

By Jonathan Donkor



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