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5 poisoned by balloon fish, one escapes death

A local hospital said it has treated five people who were poisoned by balloon fish. One man was in critical condition and stopped breathing on the way to the Shanghai No.3 People's Hospital on Monday night.

Learning the group had just eaten balloon fish, the hospital carried out emergency treatment, including gastrolavage, to help patients regain nervous functions.

Four patients recovered quickly but the 69-year-old man was still on the respiratory machine, hospital officials said today.

"His poisoning symptoms were the most serious," said Wu Yan, a hospital official. "He has regained consciousness and will have the respiratory machine removed soon."

Dr Qin Zonghe, director of the hospital's intensive care unit, said the hospital receives balloon fish-poisoned patients almost every year. He urged people not to eat the tasty but poisonous fish for the sake of their lives.

People will feel numb first in the mouth, tongue, fingers and then the whole body if the balloon fish they ate was not cleared of its poisonous blood and entrails. Some will have breathing difficulty, loss of blood pressure, coma and even die, doctors said.

It is illegal to sell balloon fish in the city, said the Shanghai Food Safety Office, which is investigating the case.


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