x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Tests show toxic food killed girl in Sharjah

Doctors confirm that food poisoning killed a four-year-old girl, as her devastated family continue to search for the source of the illness.

SHARJAH // Doctors have confirmed yesterday that food poisoning killed a four-year-old girl, as her devastated family continue to search for the source of the illness. Marwa Faisal died in Al Qassimi Hospital early on Sunday morning, just 55 minutes after she, her parents and her brother were admitted, suffering from violent vomiting.

Yesterday, Marwa's father, K Faisal, said he was in shock and unsure what poisoned his family. "There is no use pointing fingers now. We have lost our daughter," he said. The family, including Mr Faisal, his wife, Shabana, and son Afras, 8, became ill on Saturday night. They rushed to a private clinic, then the hospital. Within an hour, Marwa was dead. Her parents and brother have recovered. Mr Faisal said the family would travel to India to complete the final rites.

"My family is very weak and upset, to say the least," Mr Faisal said. "I will be coming back from India to fulfil my commitments, but I don't know about my family." He said he was baffled by the origin of the tainted food. "We had food as we do every time," he said. "Most of it was home cooked food. I find it hard to believe that there was any negligence on our part." Mr Faisal and hospital staff said the family ordered food from a restaurant in the morning, while lunch and dinner were fish and rice, cooked at home.

Dr Fatima Ibrahim, the medical director of Al Qassimi Hospital, said tests showed Marwa died of food poisoning, though initial test results from vomit samples of Marwa and Afras did not show any bacteria. "This is why we do not know exactly what caused the death. Besides, the family had vomited four to five times before they got to the hospital," she said. Doctors suspect that a toxic element was present in the food, but that it could only be confirmed through further tests. More extensive results were expected in the next few days.

"We are all shocked at the death of the girl in such a short period," Dr Ibrahim said. "The hospital gave the family immediate assistance." Dr Ibrahim said the Ministry of Health was informed about the case on Sunday. "We told them the position of the investigation. They will investigate further," she said. Ministry of Health officials declined to comment about the case yesterday. pmenon@thenational.ae