Fishy Catch Lands Haifa Couple in Hospital

A middle-aged couple from Haifa returned home after being hospitalized for two days at the city's Rambam Medical Center with nerve damage as a result of eating the meat of a toxic blowfish normally found in the Pacific Ocean. Helena, 54, and her husband, 68, took their poisonous catch out of the Mediterranean Sea at Haifa's Dado Beach on Sunday. The fish is thought to have reached the Haifa shore via the Suez Canal.

"I went with my husband to Dado Beach, and he was hobby-fishing. He brought up a big, fat fish, which we took home and fried up," Helena related. She said they decided to eat only the liver then and saved the rest for later.

After they ate, Helena went to her job at a local factory. She was brought to Rambam soon after, suffering from loss of sensation in her extremities, dizziness and lack of coordination, where the neurologist on duty, Dr. Luba Rapoport, thought she might have suffered a stroke because her speech and thought processes were unclear. Helena called her husband, who told her he was having symptoms similar to hers and came to the hospital as well. They told the doctors about the fish they had caught and eaten.

The director of Rambam's toxicology center, Dr. Yedidya Bentur, who has done some research on poisonous fish, believed the Silverstripe Blaasop blowfish might be the culprit.

"I showed the patient a few pictures, just like in a police lineup, and when we got to the right picture, he shouted with joy, 'that's the fish, that's the fish,'" Bentur related. He said the fish is very poisonous, and that eating even a small amount of its internal organs can cause damage to the nervous system.