New Zealand Family Recovers from Botulism but Loses Memory

An Indian couple and the man’s mother had collapsed last month after consuming meat of wild boar he had hunted.


Three members of an Indian family living in New Zealand have gained consciousness after falling prey to botulism, a rare form of food poisoning caused by bacteria growing on improperly sterilized tinned meat and other preserved foods, on Nov. 10. However, all three of them have lost their memory of the last month.

Shibu Kochummen, 35, his wife Subi Babu, 33, and his mother Alekutty Daniel, 62, had eaten freshly slaughtered wild boar meat for dinner at their Putaruru home. They were told that short-term memory loss is expected as part of the recovery, reported. The last known case of botulism in New Zealand was in 2015.

Babu regained consciousness on Dec 1 while Kochummen woke up earlier this week. Daniel gained consciousness on Nov. 26.

The couple’s two daughters, aged 7 years and 12 months, have visited their parents and grandmother in the hospital. Relatives of the couple also came to take care of them from India. The couple had moved to New Zealand from Kottarakkara in Kollam district of Kerala.

It was a “big relief,” Joji Verghese, a friend of the family who goes to the same church, told the media. “It is going to take time for everything to fall into place. Although Babu could not communicate properly yet, she asked for her children if they were safe when she woke up,” Verghese said.

“The family has had no other treatment but for botulism and they have come around, so I think that’s what it was,” Verghese told media. Verghese had set up a Givealittle page to crowdfund for the family to help them with the airfares of the relatives.

The children will be traveling to India with their grandparents so that their parents can recover.

It is not certain if New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) would help the family.

Kochummen had gone hunting with friends on Nov. 10 where they killed a boar. After eating the cooked boar, Daniel collapsed, vomiting. Kochummen called an ambulance, but while on the phone he collapsed too.

Later, emergency services found the three of them on the floor, unresponsive. The children were asleep and did not eat the boar.

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