At least five people, including a toddler, have been confirmed dead while eleven others are in hospital in critical conditions in the southern Malawi district of Balaka following suspected food poisoning.
“A family slaughtered a goat which was taken with pigeon peas on Thursday last week,” said Balaka District Health spokesman Samson Mfuyeni.
Mfuyeni said immediately after the meal the family started convulsions and vomiting.
“They were rushed to the Balaka District Hospital where a three-year-old baby died immediately. Two others died on Friday, another on Saturday and a woman also died yesterday (Sunday,” he said.
The health spokesman said the eleven that are still in hospital are in a critical condition.
“We suspect food poisoning, either the goat or the pigeon peas. We have taken samples to be analysed,” he said.
The Malawi incident follows the death of at least 50 people across the border in Mozambique who died after taking local beer at a funeral suspected to be laced with crocodile poison.
Balaka is a drought-prone district which perennially runs out of food by January. Many families scavenge for food in bushes during that time.
The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee, which comprises government and United Nations Agencies, say over a million people already require emergency food aid across the southern African country.