Death possibly related to fish: Taiwan hospital

TAIWAN - Food poisoning that potentially occurred from fish consumption left one dead and one hospitalized in Taitung County, yesterday.

Four Amis, an aboriginal tribe from Taitung, reported to the Chenggong branch of Taitung Hospital upon feeling soreness in their limbs and numbness around the lips, on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 20. Two of them received medication, went home, and chewed on yam leaves for detoxification purposes.

Meanwhile, the other two, who were siblings and surnamed Lin, were were hospitalized. The 66-year-old brother was transferred to Taitung Hospital in the evening of July 20, where he was pronounced dead at 7 a.m. yesterday morning. The 61-year-old brother, who was also transferred to Taitung Hospital early yesterday morning, was stabilized and remains hospitalized.

According to Taitung Hospital, the symptoms the Lin brothers experienced included an itchy throat and lips and joint pain. High potassium levels were detected in their blood. These observations led the hospital to suspect that the brothers were suffering from food poisoning.

The Lin brothers' nephew said that his uncles went fishing at the Gihaw Harbor in Chenggong Township with friends on the Wednesday morning. They washed and ate their catch at the harbor. Later that day, the four felt ill and visited the hospital.

The nephew said he also ate a few fish when he passed by the four at the harbor that day at noon, but nothing was wrong with him. He had even eaten some of the leftover fish for lunch yesterday, and still everything was fine. According to the nephew, the fish caught were mainly the three kinds of small fish locals see often.

Family and friends of the Lins also testified that the pair had always eaten the same three kinds of small fish and no problem had ever occurred, so "it definitely was not the fish." Perhaps the harbor or the nearby environment was polluted, they suggested.

The Taitung County Public Health Bureau, upon receiving reports from Taitung Hospital, visited the Lins' household and brought back leftover fish and their dinner from July 20, as well as sand from Gihaw Harbor, for further investigation.