Eleven members of the same family are in hospital after unwittingly cooking and eating a poisonous pufferfish for dinner.
The Souza family, from Rio de Janerio, were given the fish by a family friend who had recently returned from a sea fishing expedition off Dubque de Caxias, on the Brazilian coast.
Unbeknownst to anyone, the present was a deadly pufferfish - which contains a toxin 1,200 times more lethal than cyanide, a drop of which can kill in 24 hours.
Only seconds after taking their first bite members of the family began to vomit, before losing feeling in their face, arms and legs.
Most of the victims, including children aged three to five, were paralysed before they could even reach a car to transport them to hospital.
Cristiane Souza described to Brazil’s RJ TV how her husband Jose Augusto, 41, lost all feeling shortly after taking the first bite.
“My husband was the first to say he couldn’t feel his tongue, then his face, and then his arms. Then his legs went dead and he couldn’t stand up any more. It was terrifying.
“My brother-in-law was the same. He didn’t even make it out the door. We had to carry them out and rush them to hospital in a car,” she said, explaining they had invited the entire family round because the fish looked so “tasty”.
10 Deadliest Animals In The World
10 Deadliest Animals In The World
1/10 10: Poison Dart Frog
They might look cute, but the backs of the Amazonian poison dart frog ooze a slimy neurotoxin to keep predators away. Each frog produces enough of the toxin to kill 10 humans.
2/10 9: Polar Bear
The strength of a polar bear is enough to decapitate a human being with a single swipe of the paw.
3/10 8: African Elephant
The brute force of an elephant is unrivalled by any land mammal. Weighing in around 16,000lb on average, they are responsible for around 500 human deaths each year.
4/10 7: Cape Buffalo
Cape Buffalos charge head-on with their razor-sharp horns when confronted with a predator - all 1,500lb of them. And the problem is, they tend to do so as a herd.
5/10 6: Crocodile
The stealth and combined strength of a crocodile allows it to lie in the water undetected, before it strikes, drags its pray underwater, barrel rolls and dismembers it.
6/10 5: African Lion
These big cats are ruthlessly agile, armed with razor-sharp teeth and talons and near-perfect hunters.
7/10 4: Great White Shark
These kings of the sea have 3,000 teeth with which to tear their pray to shreds. On average, are 15ft long and 5,000lb, and can detect a drop of blood in 25 gallons of water.
8/10 3: Australian Box Jellyfish
Each tentacle has 5,000 stinging cells and enough toxin to kill 60 humans. Each jellyfish has 60 tentacles each at 15 ft long. That's a lot of killing power for an animal the size of a salad bowl.
9/10 2: Asian Cobra
It might not be the most poisonous snake, but thanks to its unique spit and strike attack technique, the Asian Cobra is responsible for more human deaths than any other snake on the planet.
10/10 1: Mosquito
Tiny but deadly, mosquitoes carry and transfer malaria causing parasites to humans. As a result, they cause on average 2million human deaths a year, making the insect one of the world's deadliest creatures. Aside from human beings, of course.
Grandmother Maria do Carmo said: “We had no idea it was a pufferfish. They’re all in a critical condition. My grandson, my daughter, and my son-in-law, they are all in hospital. We’re praying for a miracle.
“We put the fish on the table in the yard outside and everyone dived in. They were all saying how delicious it was. I didn’t eat it because I was waiting until everyone had tried it.”
Pufferfish, or ‘Fugu’, is a delicacy in Japan. It is strictly controlled and only chefs who have qualified after three years training can prepare a meal featuring the fish.
Statistics from the Tokyo Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health indicate 20 to 44 incidents of ‘fugu’ poisoning every year between 1996 and 2006 in Japan – however a single incident can hide multiple casualties.
There is no known cure for the poison, which paralyses the body while leaving the victim, who gradually suffocates, awake. Victims are hospitalised and their stomachs emptied before being fed activated charcoal to bind the toxin. They are also put on life support until the poison wears off.Reuse content