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December 13, 2012

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Diners survive balloon fish poisoning

FIVE coworkers poisoned by eating balloon fish have been treated by a local hospital, including a 69-year-old man who had stopped breathing and had a very weak heartbeat upon arrival at the hospital, officials said yesterday.

Four people, three men and one woman, were discharged yesterday, according to officials from Shanghai No.3 People's Hospital. The sickest man had been in critical condition but had improved, though he remained on a respirator yesterday for further observation, the hospital said.

One of the coworkers got balloon fish as a gift from friends and invited the others to a meal at home at noon on Monday.

They were rushed to the hospital at 5pm that day. After learning what they'd eaten, the hospital launched emergency treatment including pumping their stomachs and giving them medicines to help them regain proper nervous function.

"The sickest male patient has regained consciousness and will be removed from the respirator machine soon," said Wu Yan, a hospital official.

Qin Zonghe, director of the hospital's intensive care unit, said the hospital sees patients with balloon fish poisoning almost every year and warned people not to eat the tasty but poisonous fish since there is no specific cure for the poison.

Balloon fish is one of the most poisonous animals in the world. Its blood, liver and eggs are highly toxic and can lead to numbness, respiratory distress and death.

It is illegal to sell balloon fish in the city.

Officials from Shanghai Food Safety Office said yesterday they will investigate the case.


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