Boy, 7, dies after eating puffer fish; 6 others downed

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD boy died while his four siblings and parents experienced difficulty in breathing after they reportedly got poisoned from eating puffer fish last Monday afternoon in Madridejos, Cebu.

John Clifford Negro died in the Bantayan District Hospital on Monday night.

Dr. Cynthia Genosolango, head of the Provincial Health Office, said John Clifford most likely died because of the toxin from the puffer fish.


As of yesterday morning, his parents Armando and Marivel, and siblings Marie, 9, and Arbel, 5, were still confined at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC).

The other Negro children—Aidelyn, 12; Jophen, 17; Ethyl, 15; and Jhameia, 2—have been discharged from the hospital.

Capitol’s help

The Cebu Provincial Government will shoulder the hospital bills of the Negro family.

“We are also offering burial assistance for the child who died plus food assurance to the family,” said Natera, quoting the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office.

The Negro family, who reportedly live in a tent after their house was destroyed by typhoon Yolanda last year, reportedly had puffer fish, locally known as “buriring” for dinner last Monday at around 4 p.m.

When they were about to sleep, Armando, his wife and kids started experiencing difficulty breathing.

Armando’ son Jophen then sought the help of neighbors, who informed the barangay.


Zeny Hernandez, head of the Disaster Risk Management in Barangay Poblacion, said that when the Negros arrived, John Clifford was already unconscious.

The family was rushed to the Bantayan District Hospital but John Clifford died few minutes after arriving in the hospital at around 7 p.m.

The next day, Armando, Marivel and their five other children were brought to VSMMC.

“They were already very weak and couldn’t breathe properly,” Hernandez told Sun.Star Cebu.

He said that the four children, who were discharged ahead, felt better after receiving treatment, while the four other still had difficulty breathing.

Hernandez said it was the first time in their barangay that someone got poisoned for eating buriring.

Burirings have tetradotoxin, which disrupts nerve transmission. When this happens, the person experiences numbness in the lips that eventually leads to paralysis and death.

Cooking cannot destroy the tetradotoxin and the effects of the poison can begin as early as 10 to 45 minutes after eating.

In severe cases, death can occur within six to 24 hours after ingestion.

This is why Genosolango advised the public to avoid eating puffer fish as much as possible.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 24, 2014.

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