The pufferfish contains a toxin that is 1,200 times more lethal than cyanide
The pufferfish contains a toxin that is 1,200 times more lethal than cyanideReuters

Eleven members of the same family are in a critical condition in a Brazil hospital after unknowingly cooking the world's most poisonous fish for supper.

The Souza family reportedly fried and served up a pufferfish they had been given by a friend who made the catch during a fishing expedition near their home in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro.

Within seconds of taking their first bite of the fish, every family member began to vomit, before losing the feeling in their face, arms and legs.

Most of the victims, including four children aged between three and five, were reportedly paralysed before they could even reach a car that could take them to hospital.

The pufferfish contains a toxin that is 1,200 times more lethal than cyanide – a drop of which can kill within 24 hours.

Cristiane Souza, whose husband Jose Augusto, 41, ate the fish, told Brazil's RJ TV: "The fish looked so tasty so we invited the whole family. We fried it and everyone tucked in.

Sushi chef Juntaro Takagi poses with a pufferfish or 'fugu' at Japanese restaurant Chikubu. Pufferfish is considered a rare delicacy in Japan
Sushi chef Juntaro Takagi poses with a pufferfish or 'fugu' at Japanese restaurant Chikubu. Pufferfish is considered a rare delicacy in JapanReuters

"My husband was the first to say he couldn't feel his tongue, then his face, and then his arms. Then his legs went dead and he couldn't stand up any more. It was terrifying.

"My brother-in-law was the same. He didn't even make it out the door. We had to carry them out and rush them to hospital in a car."

Grandmother Maria do Carmo added: "We had no idea it was a pufferfish. They're all in a critical condition. My grandson, my daughter, and my son-in-law – they are all in hospital. We're praying for a miracle.

"We put the fish on the table in the yard outside and everyone dived in. They were all saying how delicious it was. I didn't eat it because I was waiting until everyone had tried it."