Three adults are in a critical condition with what could be the potentially fatal illness botulism, the Waikato District Health Board told this site.
A cause and source of the illness is unknown. But the three family members hunted and ate a wild boar on New Zealand’s North Island before being found unresponsive by emergency services on Friday 17 November, after one family member called for an ambulance.
It is legal to hunt wild boar in New Zealand. However, it is the responsibility of the hunter to ensure the catch is safe for consumption, and government guidelines warn that wild game may be at risk of microbiological or chemical contamination.
Family given anti-toxins
A spokesperson for Waikato District Health Board said it could be weeks before the cause of the illness is known.
“We don’t know the exact cause and source of this illness, however we believe it is botulism.
“The three patients are responding to botulism anti-toxin and are recovering in hospital. We have sent samples off to a specialist centre in Queensland for testing but it may take several weeks before we get the results. We have no evidence to believe there is any public health issue.”
Fears that wild boar may pose a public health risk were also dashed by Hunting New Zealand, a hunting enthusiast group.
In an emailed statement, Hunting New Zealand told this site: “New Zealanders have been consuming wild boar meat for centuries. Hunting them is extremely common and wild pork is a regular staple for thousands of Kiwi hunters and their families.
“We have never known of any case of poisoning from wild game meat until this one, and nobody else we know of has heard of it before either.
“The tragic case of the family who have fallen ill from botulism is freakishly uncommon; there must be a very unusual set of circumstances there. The exact circumstances are not yet clear.”