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Man gets food poisoning and loses hands and feet

August 18, 2015

A man in Singapore was forced to have his hands and feet amputated after suffering an extreme bout of food poisoning caused by raw fish.

The operation was performed on the 50-year-old father of two after he experienced a severe reaction to life-saving medication prescribed to him to treat his fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Tan Whee Boon, who has told Singapore reporters of his horrific experience, was rushed to hospital the morning after eating yusheng, the dish believed responsible for causing his illness.

Mr Tan was given medication and drifted in and out of consciousness for nearly two weeks, only to wake and find his hands and feet had turned black and gangrenous.

“Before the doctors could tell me anything, I passed out. When I woke up, my hands and feet were already black,” said Mr Tan.

His wife Choong Siet Mei said she “watched his limbs and nails turn from purple to black before they dried up. I couldn’t bear to tell him at first.”

The medication is believed to have restricted blood flow to his extremities, forcing the doctors to amputate in order to stop the gangrene spreading further and save his life.

“Waking up and being told I might have to lose my limbs, I kept thinking there had to be another way.”

The future for his family appears uncertain given Mr Tan is the sole provider but so far, a crowd-funding campaign has been set up to help the family pay the $28,000 medical bill.

The dangers of raw fish

While it might be safe to eat certain types of fish raw, many contain dangerous and sometimes lethal toxins. Just one of the reasons why it is essential to be aware of what is and isn’t safe to eat, particularly when travelling.

As a defence mechanism some sea creatures produce toxins that can attack a person’s nervous system. Ciguatera poisoning can cause the sufferer severe gastrointestinal and neurological effects, including paraesthesia, vertigo and in some cases hallucinations.

Before eating any raw fish make sure that it is safe to eat and has been handled properly. Some things to look out for are:

  • No signs of thawing
  • The fish was kept at -40 degrees Celsius
  • Firm and shiny flesh
  • No strong ‘fishy’ odour
  • Keep raw fish away from other foods to minimise the risk of cross-contamination