What led to girl’s death after eating shawarma in Kerala? Report is out

An outbreak of shigella bacteria is believed to be the reason behind the recent incident of suspected food poisoning in Kasaragod district, where around 58 people fell ill and a young girl died after consuming food — specifically shawarma — from an eatery here.

A senior official said that samples of five patients — who were the most symptomatic — out of all the infected persons were collected and sent for testing to the Kozhikode Medical College and three of the tests came back positive for the bacteria on Tuesday.

Devananda, the 16-year-old girl from Karivallor near Kasaragod, died at the Kanhangad district hospital on Sunday

As a result, it was being considered an outbreak of the bacteria and consequently, steps are being taken to control its spread and ensure that it does not happen in the future, he said.

The official said that the district administration and the health officials were working to increase awareness among the general public and the owners of the various food outlets on how the bacteria spread, how to avoid getting infected and the measures that can be put in place to control it.


Meetings and discussions have also been scheduled with owners of food outlets in the district and various eateries and restaurants are being inspected by the health officials, he said.

Besides that local water supply was also being examined and tested at various places in the district to find out whether it has been contaminated, he also said.

The bacteria primarily spreads through contaminated food and water and an important preventive measure is following and maintaining good hygiene, he added.

Apart from that, cooking the food properly would also kill the bacteria, the official said.
Shigella is one of the leading bacterial causes of diarrhoea worldwide and is an intestinal infection caused by a family of bacteria.

Some of the common symptoms of shigella infection are diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, tiredness and blood in stool.

The Kerala High Court, meanwhile, has on its own taken cognisance of the recent suspected food poisoning incident in Kasaragod and sought the state governments stand on it.

The suspected food poisoning incident in Kasaragod has been one of several such instances in the state in the last few days.

On Monday, 18 people of a 23-member tourist group from Thiruvananthapuram were suspected to have suffered from food poisoning after consuming food from three different places in Wayanad district of the state.

Since they consumed food from various places, it could not be clearly said food from which restaurant was the cause of the suspected food poisoning, police had said.

Incidents of suspected food poisoning were also reported from Malappuram and Kollam on Monday, though in both incidents none were seriously affected.

The suspected food poisoning incident in Kasaragod, after eating shawarma, also prompted the health department to issue directions to ensure the Levantine dish was prepared in a manner that was safe for consumption.

State Health Minister Veena George on Monday had said directions have been issued to the Food Safety Commissioner to ensure neat and clean preparation of the dish for the customers.

Devananda, the 16-year-old girl from Karivallor near Kasaragod, died at the Kanhangad district hospital on Sunday, while undergoing treatment for food poisoning.

(With Agency inputs)