The Treacherous Effects of Tetrodotoxin Found in Pufferfish
By: Angel Isaac
General Chemistry 1
6 February 2009
“Puffer fish can blink and close their eyes, which is very unusual. There are few fish that can accomplish this” (Alward 1). Puffer fish can inflate themselves into a by taking in massive amounts of water and sometimes air (“Puffer fish” 2). The poison found in puffer fish as well as in blowfish, balloon fish, toads, sunfish, porcupine fish, toadfish, globefish, and swellfish is a tetrodotoxin. It is one of many toxins in nature known to be very poisonous (“Puffer fish Poisoning” 2). Tetrodotoxin is very deadly to humans because it is 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide. The puffer fish’s tetrodotoxin can kill 30 humans. Yet, there is no known cure or antidote created to fight off puffer fish poisoning (“Pufferfish” 2). The reason why I chose to do a term paper on the effects of tetrodotoxin in puffer fish is because not many people are aware of the dangers of eating puffer fish. Also, I wanted to know if there is a cure for puffer fish poisoning. I have heard from the past that puffer fish and blowfish are poisonous because of their skin and body parts and that eating either one is disastrous. My topic has several biological information, cause and effects of puffer fish poisoning, chemical reactions, and chemical formulas.
To begin, there is some biological information that should be known about puffer fish. The puffer fish has several different names, such as: fugu, blowfish, globefish, and balloonfish (Alward 1). There are over 120 species of puffer fish around the world. Many are seen in tropical and subtropical ocean waters, while others live in brackish and fresh water regions (Puffer fish 2). Puffer fish are meat eaters (Alward 1). The general name for puffer fish in Japan is fugu. The family name of puffer fish is Tetraodontidae. The class name for the puffer fish is Osteichthyes. There are 38 species of puffer fish that thrive in Japanese waters. Japan eats about 20,000 tons of puffer fish each year and 6,800 puffer fish in imports. The puffer fish population is disintegrating because of Japanese consumption (“How Effects Of Tetradotoxin in The Puffer Fish Affect Lives of Animals” 1). Puffer fish belong to the order Tetraodontiformes. The puffer fish are considered a delicacy in Japan. To serve this delicacy, Japanese chefs have to be licensed to prepare it. But, even with careful preparation, the odds are that people still die from eating the puffer fish (Ahasan, Mamun, Karim, Bakar, Gazi, and Bala 1). Thus, this concludes some incite on the puffer fish.
Next, people should be aware of the symptoms that follow when eating puffer fish. The poison tetrodotoxin in puffer fish is in the flesh, viscera, and skin (Ahasan, Mamun, Karim, Bakar, Gazi, and Bala 1). After one consumes the puffer fish, the symptoms start coming after 10-45 minutes. The first symptoms include slight numbing and or tingling around the mouth. Later symptoms involve salivation, nausea, and vomiting. If this isn’t bad enough, it can lead to paralysis, unconsciousness, heart failure, and finally death (Pufferfish Poisoning 7). In the first 10-45 minutes after consumption paresthesias develops. Paresthesias means tongue tingling in the mouth. Other common symptoms of eating puffer fish include vomiting, lightheadedness, dizziness, feelings of doom, and weakness. Later on, paralysis and death can occur within 6-24 hours. Other manifestations include salivation, muscle twitching, diaphoresis, pleuritic chest pain, dysphagia, aphonia, and convulsions. Severe poisoning is indicated by hypotension, bradycardia, depressed corneal reflexes, and fixed dilated pupils. Diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms and a history of ingestion. There is no specific antidote made to treat puffer fish poisoning. Despite the high death rate associated with...