Published On: Tue, Jun 19th, 2012

Thai doctor says Canadian sisters may have died after eating fugu

After the  preliminary exam of the two Canadian sisters who died in their hotel room in Phi Phi, a Thailand physician suspects the women may contracted a fatal case of food poisoning from either toxic mushrooms or puffer fish, or fugu.

Public domain photo/Jh12 via wikimedia commons

According to a Bangkok Post report Monday,  the bodies of Audrey and Noemi Belanger, aged 20 and 26, from Quebec province, were found Friday by hotel staff on Phi Phi island, in Phuket province, in the Andaman Sea, showing signs of having suffered an extreme toxic reaction.

Dr Komkrit Phukrityakame said he believed the two were victims of food poisoning, “The source could have been a meal which included blowfish or poisonous mushrooms”.

Bangkok police suggest the women contracted the life-threatening food poisoning after eating at a local restaurant last Tuesday.

Police have ruled out foul play and the bodies were sent to the medical examiner for autopsy.

Canadian news source, cnews, reports that Lt. Col. Rat Somboon of Krabi Provincial Police confirmed that “forensic officials found vomit in the room, blood on their lips and gums, and their fingernails and toenails were blue.”

Family and friends of the Belanger’s in Quebec are questioning the actions of Thai authorities–the autopsy was delayed too long, the bodies were transported to Bangkok before Canadian embassy personnel could examine and the hotel room in Phi Phi was cleaned up too early while there was an investigation.

What is puffer fish poisoning?

Puffer fish poisoning, or tetrodotoxication is an acute and potentially life threatening illness after eating puffer fish, or fugu. The mortality rate of this type of food poisoning is around 60%.

Tetrodotoxin is a heat-stable toxin that is concentrated in the liver, intestines and ovaries of the fish. According to the Ishikawa health service association, tetrodotoxin is nearly 100 times more poisonous than potassium cyanide.

Symptoms usually begin within an hour or so after ingesting the fish. Symptoms include lethargy, weakness, numbness of the face, lips and extremities, a floating sensation and emesis. These early symptons are usually quickly followed by flacid paralysis and respiratory failure.

Patients that survive require respiratory support and fully recover within 48 hours.

Tetraodotoxin is also found in salamanders, newts and other types of animals.

The United States bans the importation of fugu.


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- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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