Tetrodotoxin - Powerful paralytic found in puffer
fish. This substance appeared on both the fantasy drama THE
X-FILES/FOX//1993-2002 and the police drama COLUMBO/NBC/1972-77.
On the police drama TV-Movie COLUMBO: "Murder Under Glass",
LAPD homicide detective Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) investigated the death of an
Italian restaurant owner. He discovered the man was murdered by wine tainted
with Tetrodotoxin. It was injected through the cork of the wine bottle by a
blackmailing colleague (Louis Jordan).
On episode No. 38 "Fresh Bones" of THE
X-FILES, FBI agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) learned that Tetrodotoxin was
used by Haitian refugees to paralyze Army solders in voodoo rituals. Both
episodes revealed that Tetrodotoxin was a derivative of the puffer fish.
Puffer Fish, aka "Fugu"
Although considered a delicacy in Japan, the puffer fish must be meticulously
prepared by specially trained and licensed chefs to prevent poisoning. The toxin
is concentrated in the liver, gonads, and skin of the puffer fish (aka, "Fugu").
Typically, poisoning victims will experience respiratory muscle paralysis and
respiratory failure. Death can occur with in 4-6 hours. Tetrodotoxin is
hundred times more deadly than cyanide, another deadly neurotoxin.
Other species of animals shown to produce Tetrodotoxin include the
California newt, parrot fish, blue-ringed octopus.
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