Eleven people in a commune in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai ate a toad on Wednesday. As a result, one of them has died, while the rest had to be hospitalized in critical condition.
The dead victim was a young man, 17-year-old Kpuih Thung, of Ia Dok Commune, Duc Co District, who allegedly ate the most of the toad dish. The other victims, all from the same commune, are being treated at the Gia Lai General Hospital, where they were taken on Wednesday night with symptoms of vomiting, headache, low heart rate, stomachache, and difficulty breathing. By yesterday evening, after intensive treatment and care, all of them had come out of critical condition, but they will have to be given further treatment and care for several more days, doctors said.
Dr Ho Viet Hai, deputy head of the General Internal Medicine department of the hospital, said examinations and tests showed that all the patients had been poisoned with toxic substances from the eggs or other organs of the toad they had eaten.
Ro Lan Zic, 20, one of the victims, said that he and ten other men ate the toad, which one of them had found at the foot of a coffee tree after they finished working in their coffee fields at 5 pm on June 26.
Some of them had skinned prepared the toad, but kept its liver, eggs and some other organs that they said looked “attractive”, Bich said.
They washed the prepared toad in a stream before grilling it on an oven.
They ate the dish while drinking about two liters of alcohol. Their party ended at 7 pm and they went home.
About an hour later, all of the men began vomiting and suffering from a severe stomachache. After Kpuih Thung died at his home a moment later, all the other men were taken to the hospital.
Many locals in the commune said they often catch toads for food, and poisoning is very rare. They said they feed toad dishes to their children to provide nutrients and prevent malnutrition.
Ro Mah Thin, chairman of the commune People’s Committee, said toad is a common food for locals, and there has never been any poisoning as heartbreaking as this.
Meanwhile, Dr Dao Thi Yen Phi, head of the Nutrition Department of the Pham Ngoc Thach Medicine University, warns everyone not to eat toad for safety reasons, since it is not more nutritious than pork or chicken.
Toad meat’s effect of treating bone stunting remains unproven, while the skin and liver of a toad contain tetrodotoxin, an extremely toxic substance, Phi said.
Once it enters the human body, tetrodotoxin will cause a dangerous infection in the mental system, the doctor said. Dr Hai from the said hospital also warned, “Only the toad’s meat can be eaten by humans. All the other organs of the amphibian must not be eaten as they contain toxic substances at very high levels.” Therefore, all these toxic organs must be discharged while preparing a toad for food. Be careful not to break such organs to avoid causing contamination to the toad’s meat, the doctor advised.