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First Aid for Pufferfish Poisoning

Last updated March 5, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

The pufferfish is the most venomous marine creature (fish) found in the tropical and subtropical ocean waters. Pufferfish Poisoning occurs from eating incorrectly prepared and served pufferfish meat.


What is Pufferfish Poisoning?

The pufferfish is the most venomous marine creature (fish) found in the tropical and subtropical ocean waters. Pufferfish Poisoning occurs from eating incorrectly prepared and served pufferfish meat.

What are the Causes of Pufferfish Poisoning?

The cause of Pufferfish Poisoning includes:

  • Consumption of improperly cut and prepared pufferfish
  • Consuming pufferfish accidentally (due to mistaking the identity of fish being prepared)

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Pufferfish Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Pufferfish Poisoning can onset within an hour (or less) of consuming its meat. These may include:

  • Dizziness, intoxication
  • Numbing of facial muscles and tongue
  • Severe fatigue and weak muscles
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Unconsciousness

How is First Aid administered for Pufferfish Poisoning?

If a Pufferfish Poisoning is suspected, it is always important to call your local emergency helpline number (or 911 in the US) without any delay, and provide as much information as possible, even if the individual does not have any symptoms.

Until medical help arrives:

  • Make a note of the exact time of the incident and notify the emergency medical personnel accordingly
  • Induce vomiting, if the ingestion occurred within the last 2-3 hours
  • DO NOT give anything orally to the individual
  • Unless directed by the physician, DO NOT give any medication

Who should administer First Aid for Pufferfish Poisoning?

The individual himself/herself or someone nearby may begin to administer First Aid. Call your local emergency helpline number or 911 immediately as mentioned before.

What is the Prognosis of Pufferfish Poisoning?

The prognosis of Pufferfish Poisoning is dependent on the amount of portion consumed, the severity of reaction, and timely manner in which treatment is administered.

How can Pufferfish Poisoning be Prevented?

Preventive tips for Pufferfish Poisoning include:

  • Completely avoid the consumption of pufferfish
  • Educating fishing community about avoiding the consumption of pufferfish, especially in the endemic regions
  • Use excellently-qualified and well-trained cooks to cook pufferfish (if necessary)

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

Do’s:

  • Call your local emergency helpline number (or 911) for help
  • Induce vomiting, if poisoning occurred in the last 2-3 hours

Don’ts:

  • Do not hesitate to call your emergency help services
  • Do not medicate the individual, unless advised by a healthcare professional
  • Do not run or exercise which might increase the circulation of toxin in the body

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Dec. 27, 2015
Last updated: March 5, 2018