The relatives of a trio who have been unresponsive in hospital for 12 days after eating wild boar have arrived in New Zealand to support their family.

Husband and wife Shibu Kochummen, 35, and Subi Babu, 32, and Kochummen's 62-year-old mother, Alekutty Daniel remain in a serious but stable condition in a ward at Waikato Hospital.

The trio fell ill last week after eating what was suspected to be contaminated wild boar and have been responding to botulism treatment.

Samples had been sent to Queensland for testing that would determine the cause of their illness, though this may not be confirmed for several weeks.


Close friend Joji Varghese said Kochummen's sister and Babu's brother had arrived from India late on Monday night to help support the couple's two children, aged 7 and 1.

Speaking to the Herald from Waikato Hospital late this afternoon Varghese said the "very jet-lagged" family were unprepared for what they saw.

A miscommunication meant it had been reported by Indian news publications that the trio had food poisoning, Varghese said, so their state had come as a shock.

"To see what they've seen - three unresponsive people - my goodness they're shattered."

Varghese said a silver lining was seeing the children's reaction after being reunited with their family.

"Their eldest daughter didn't realise she was going to be separated from her parents for this long - it's day 12 now."

"She's been sad and worried but when she saw her uncle and aunt she ran into their arms."

Nothing had changed in terms of the trio's condition over the past few days and Varghese said he was meeting with the doctors on a weekly basis to discuss their condition.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Health said cases of botulism were "rare" in New Zealand.

"Prior to 2017, the most recent probable case was notified during 2014. This was the first case of botulism in New Zealand since 1985, when two cases were reported," they said.

Patients diagnosed with botulism could be treated with an anti-toxin, which could significantly reduce the time of intensive care needed. When treated with appropriate care, most people would fully recover.

A Ministry for Primary Industries spokesperson told the Herald last week: "MPI has been notified of this incident by the Waikato District Health Board's Population Health Services, and we are working with them to investigate."

What is botulism?

• Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body's nerves, causing paralysis.
• The effects of the toxin wear off over time.
• Botulism is caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.
• Clostridium botulinum bacteria are found throughout the environment in soil, dust and some marine environments.
• Food-borne botulism is caused by eating foods that have been contaminated with botulism toxin.
• Common sources of food-borne botulism are homemade or preserved foods that have been improperly canned, preserved or fermented.