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.