All you need to know about the poisonous fish that killed 4 in Volta region

The puffer fish allegedly killed four in Ghana recently, and many have since been wondering what kind of poisonous species that is. Here's all you need to know about the fish.

It is important to note that puffer fish is highly poisonous and only prepared by trained, licensed chefs who know that one bad cut means almost certain death for a customer.

Surprisingly, the meat of some puffer fish is considered a delicacy, especially in Japan.

But here’s why you should perhaps avoid it completely:

  • The puffer fish is the second most poisonous vertebrate on the planet. Its poison has no antidote and kills by paralyzing the diaphragm, causing suffocation.
  • Almost all puffer fish contain tetrodotoxin, a substance that makes them taste bad (and sometimes lethal) to fish.
  • According to National Geographic, tetrodotoxin is deadly, up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide. One puffer fish has enough toxin to kill 30 adults.
  • Tetrodotoxin does not cross the blood-brain barrier, so the victims remain fully conscious while their central nervous system gradually shuts down. Symptoms such as numbness in the mouth, lips, and tongue occur within 30 minutes to three hours from an intake and after that, the victim begins to experience headaches, nausea and even vomiting. The rest of the body slowly becomes paralysed, causing death when the heart and lung muscles are also paralysed.
  • In Japan, the most lethal part, the liver, cannot be sold, and the whole fish is banned in the European Union.
  • There are more than 120 species of puffer fish worldwide. Most of them are found in tropical and subtropical ocean waters. However, some species live in brackish and even fresh water. They have long, tapered bodies with bulbous heads.
  • The puffer fish protects itself in the wild by gulping down water and swelling up its belly to make itself look bigger. It does this because, apparently, it can't find a way to communicate the simple message, "I am poisonous," says.

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