Watermelon Causes Food Poisoning in a Family of Six

Watermelon with seeds is getting harder to find at the supermarket.

A Family of Six Falls Ill After Having Watermelon. Sellers inject watermelons with sweeteners and colouring agents!

A family of 6 people presented to the emergency department with signs and symptoms suggestive of gastroenteritis. The doctors admitted them for initial management. The family comprised of a 61-year-old male and his 59-year-old wife, their 38-year-old son and 35-year-old daughter-in-law and 2 grandsons 14- and 11-years-old. Approximately 4 hours prior to the presentation, they all had consumed pieces of freshly cut watermelon.

Diet history revealed mainly home cooked food especially during the past 7 days. They consumed clear water from the domestic supply.

In the emergency department, the grandfather was the most affected one, probably because he consumed the highest amount of watermelon. His vitals proved that he was in shock and also, he was in acute renal failure. His blood chemistry suggested uremia and acidosis.

The grandfather received intravenous fluids, intravenous ciprofloxacin, and metronidazole along with supportive and conservative management for 5 days. By the third day of admission, his urinary output and renal function tests had improved.

The rest of the family members required symptomatic management only and their hospital stay was uneventful. They had normal serology, urinalysis, and chest radiographs. However, stool cultures of all the family members grew an enteroinvasive Escherichia coli, which was non-motile with non-lactose ferments.

Some fruit sellers inject sweeteners and colouring agents into the watermelons without cutting them open by using a long needle. Watermelons receive this treatment approximately three to four hours before selling. Samples were taken for culture from the solution that had been injected into the watermelon. Unsurprisingly, culture grew multiple colonies of the enteroinvasive E coli, which were biochemically lactose positive, non-motile, with non-lactose ferments.

SOURCEBMJ Postgraduate Medical Journal
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Dr. Arsia Parekh
Dr. Arsia Hanif has been a meritorious Healthcare professional with a proven track record throughout her academic life securing first position in her MCAT examination and then, in 2017, she successfully completed her Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery from Dow University of Health Sciences. She has had the opportunity to apply her theoretical knowledge to the real-life scenarios, as a House Officer (HO) serving at Civil Hospital. Whilst working at the Civil Hospital, she discovered that nothing satisfies her more than helping other humans in need and since then has made a commitment to implement her expertise in the field of medicine to cure the sick and regain the state of health and well-being. Being a Doctor is exactly what you’d think it’s like. She is the colleague at work that everyone wants to know but nobody wants to be. If you want to get something done, you approach her – everyone knows that! She is currently studying with Medical Council of Canada and aspires to be a leading Neurologist someday. Alongside, she has taken up medical writing to exercise her skills of delivering comprehensible version of the otherwise difficult medical literature. Her breaks comprise either of swimming, volunteering services at a Medical Camp or spending time with family.


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