Following the death of a 16-year-old and the hospitalisation of over 40 people in Kerala due to food poisoning, the state Health Department has identified the cause behind the tragedy. The 16-year-old, Devananda, died and several others were hospitalised after eating chicken shawarma from an eatery called Ideal Food Point in Kasaragod on May 1. According to district medical officer (DMO) Dr AV Ramdas, the severe food poisoning was caused by a bacterium called shigella.
The bacteria was found after samples from the patients â€” who were admitted to the Kozhikode government medical college hospital â€” were collected and analysed. This pathogen can cause intestinal infection which is very contagious and can spread through contaminated food or water, the DMO said. Speaking about this particular incident, Dr Ramdas said that the shawarma meat is roasted in front of a grill for a long time, and there are chances of the consumer falling sick if the meat is not cooked thoroughly. Further, the mayonnaise or vegetables used in the dish, or the person serving it, could also have carried the bacteria, the DMO said.
According to the doctor, shigella infection is more serious than regular food poisoning. The primary symptom for this is diarrhoea and can be accompanied by stomach pain, fever, vomiting, etc. It can be fatal for children below the age of five or those with low immunity, The New Indian Express quoted the DMO as saying.
After the death of Devananda, the Chandera police in Kerala arrested three people, including the manager of the restaurant, the person who made the shawarma on the day of the incident, and the restaurantâ€™s managing partner. The owner, who lives in Dubai, has also been called for an investigation, police said.
It was found that the restaurant was functioning without necessary licences and was sealed after the studentâ€™s death. Those arrested have been booked under sections 304 (death by negligence), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 272 (adulteration) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).