A 39-year-old woman died and her four children fell ill after consuming poisonous puffer fish in Banteay Meanchey province on Sunday.
Provincial health department director Keo Sopheaktra said Mao Loch, the woman, fried puffer fish to eat with her four children on Friday, but the poison did not affect her children until the next day.
They did not go to hospital when they fell ill because they were poor and their house was in a remote area in Preah Netr Preah district, Mr Sopheaktra said.
On Sunday, Ms Loch’s neighbour helped to bring them to the district hospital, he added.
However, all were then sent to the provincial hospital because of the seriousness of their condition.
“Unfortunately, the mother died on Sunday afternoon because her condition was so serious that the doctors could not save her,” Mr Sopheaktra said. Her children survived.
Mr Sopheaktra said the mother lived with her children while her husband worked in Thailand.
“The victim’s body was sent to her home on Sunday for funeral in Preah Netr Preah commune.”
Mr Sopheaktra said it was the third case of puffer fish poisoning. He said provincial health department officials sent out information about puffer fish, but residents did not listen.
“We disseminated the information and we appealed to them not to eat puffer fish because they are poisonous but they still eat it,” Mr Sopheaktra said, noting that villagers in that area said most people ate the fish because it was delicious.
District governor Phou Pov could not be reached for comment yesterday.
In October, the Health Ministry reminded the public to avoid eating puffer fish after two people died and nine others were taken to hospital in Koh Kong and Preah Sihanouk provinces.
Ly Sovann, director of the ministry’s communicable disease control department, said at the time there were cases of puffer fish poisoning that resulted in two people dying and nine people falling ill.
He said a seven-year-old girl died in Preah Sihanouk province and a 58-year-old man in Koh Kong province.
“The ministry keeps advising the public against consuming poisonous food, including puffer fish,” he said. “Once again, we urge the public to be careful and take action to prevent food poisoning by practising good hygiene.”
He also cautioned people to avoid eating puffer fish because it contained a poison that can kill.
“The poison in the puffer fish cannot be eliminated even if it is cooked at high temperatures or frozen,” Mr Sovann said, adding that those who fell ill after eating the fish should seek treatment immediately.