17 Nov 2017

Family poisoned with botulism: 'It's a very difficult sight'

8:11 pm on 17 November 2017

A family of three who were hospitalised with suspected food poisoning after eating wild boar are being treated for botulism.

Wild boar may have poisoned Putaruru family

Wild boar may have poisoned Putaruru family Photo: RNZ / YouTube

Shibu Kochummen, his wife Subi Babu, and his mother Alexkutty Daniel - who is visiting from India - are in Waikato Hospital.

They are in a stable condition, and are all being treated in an acute ward.

When emergency services arrived at the house on Saturday, they found the three adults unconscious and the couple's two children, aged one and seven, asleep in bed, family friend Joji Varghese said.

Joji Varghese

Joji Varghese Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

He said he spoke to doctors this morning who confirmed the Putaruru-based family were being treated for botulism.

"However the test samples that have been collected are being sent to Queensland so the results are a couple of weeks away at least," he said.

"I'm sure they are in very good hands."

Mr Varghese said the news was "a good step forward" but it would be a long road until they are able to recover fully.

"We're looking at months, something in the vicinity of two to six.

When he visited them this morning, Mr Varghese said that his friends were "twitching" a lot more, but remained unresponsive.

"It's a very difficult sight to see. It's really sad."

The Hamilton church community the family belonged to were rallying around the family, and were supporting and caring for the couple's children.

"The eldest child … it's beginning to dawn on her her parents might not be coming back soon ... there is that sense of loneliness and it is difficult but she is coping," he said.

"All of us are doing the best we can to make sure she is and we can't wait for the family to arrive from India so that she is in family hands again."

Two members of their family were due to arrive from India in about four days.

Mr Varghese said yesterday that Mr Kochummen often went out with friends who hunted. He did not hunt himself.

"In the past he's gone out with friends and they've got some game meat and stuff, and gives me a call and says there's some stuff here.

"We've cooked together and had dinner, and this time round it was the same situation," he said.

Mr Varghese said he was meant to pick up the meat on Saturday when he next saw his friends.

"That night they cooked the meat, they put the children to bed early and it was just the three adults who had the meat, and that's when the trouble started."

He said that about 15 minutes after dinner, Mr Kochummen called an ambulance but fainted halfway through the conversation.

The public health service had tested food items in the family home, and Mr Varghese said the wild boar was the only food the children had not eaten.

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