A group of 11 neighbors from two families in Brazil, including young children between ages three and five, were paralyzed last week after unknowingly preparing a dinner of pufferfish, one of the world’s most poisonous fish, reports BBC News.
The Souza family from Rio de Janeiro had reportedly been gifted with the pufferfish, which contains tetrodotoxin, a paralyzing and potentially lethal toxin which cause dizziness, vomiting, muscle paralysis, and even death.
“The doctor said one of the neighbours claimed to know how to cook it, but made a mistake in the preparation,” according to the BBC.
Chefs undergo extensive training to learn how to properly remove the toxic parts of the fish, and in Japan, must be licensed to serve the fish.
In 2011, a two-Michelin starred Japanese chef was suspended after a patron was hospitalized after eating pufferfish liver.
“My husband was the first to say he couldn’t feel his tongue, then his face, and then his arms,” Christina Souza, whose husband was the first family member to notice symptoms, told Brazil’s RJ TV. “Then his legs went dead and he couldn’t stand up any more. It was terrifying.”
Though the family’s current status is unknown, three people were in intensive care and one child in serious condition at the time of reporting on October 24.
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.