Boy, 9, did not die from food poisoning, officials say

Dubai Municipality officials say a boy who died at the weekend did not suffer from food poisoning, and neither did his family members.

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DUBAI // Authorities have ruled out food poisoning as the cause of a 9-year-old boy’s death.

They have yet to determine what killed the child, Awad Khan, and made his parents and brother, Azeem, 15, sick.

The municipality’s food control department said yesterday that its investigations had showed no signs of food poisoning.

“The symptoms appeared after eight hours from taking the common meal and five hours from taking the foods at home,” said Bobby Krishna, senior food studies and surveys officer. “It is documented that the bacterial toxins cause the poisoning after one hour [on average] from taking the foods suspected to cause the food poisoning.”

The food control department has handed samples collected from the family’s home to Dubai Police.

Dubai Municipality’s pest control department said it had not been asked to investigate the incident, despite the boy’s parents voicing suspicions that pesticides sprayed at a neighbour’s house had made them ill. “We have not started our investigations,” said Hisham Abdulrahman Al Yahya, head of the municipality’s public health pest control section. “The police should call us.

“If there is any poisoning from pesticides, we should know within 24 hours [of the incident].”

Mr Al Yahya added that a delay could make it difficult to determine the exact cause of the child’s death and the family’s symptoms.

Al Baraha Hospital, where the Indian family of four was admitted on Saturday, said it had submitted all medical reports to Dubai Police.

Awad, Azeem and their parents went to the hospital on Saturday morning with complaints of dizziness, nausea and diarrhoea.

Awad was already dead when he was taken to the hospital.

They had eaten at a popular fast food restaurant on Friday with relatives, then three hours later they ate dinner at home.

Mr Krishna said that a relative who shared the restaurant meal with the family did not show any symptoms of food poisoning.

The ill family members were discharged from Al Baraha Hospital yesterday.

“Medical reports have been provided to the police and they are investigating this,” said Ahmad Al Khadeem, director of the hospital. “We cannot share any information in the reports as this is a police case.”

Dubai Police said they were investigating the incident. “We are still waiting for reports related to this case from different authorities,” said Abdul Rehman Al Nuaimi, head of the Muraqqabat police station.

Recalling the incidents of Saturday morning, the family said they had felt weak upon awakening.

“We were all very exhausted,” said Firoz Khan, Awad’s father. “I don’t know what happened.

“There was some pest control being done at our neighbour’s house, it is possible the fumes spread through the air conditioning,” said Mr Khan, a manager at a Dubai-based cargo firm.

His wife, Zeenat, said it was possible that Awad, a pupil at Al Noor Training Centre, had been affected most because he had special needs. “His resistance was low and he was a small child,” she said.

Mr Khan said the family was released from hospital at about 4pm yesterday with instructions to take antibiotics for the next five days.

They went to his brother’s house yesterday but planned to return to their own flat in Deira’s Al Muteena area today.

Mr Khan planned to visit the police station today to complete all the formalities so that Awad’s body could be released. The family wishes to bury him in Dubai.

* With additional reporting by Manal Ismail and Salam Al Amir