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Teenager Dies From Eating Somtam Lao in Northeastern Thailand

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BANGKOK – A grieving mother has blamed the sudden death of her teenage daughter on papaya salad. A green papaya dish with raw crab and fermented fish, aka Somtam Lao.

Kachorn Atsiangram, 56, was speaking at her home as the family organized the funeral of 16-year-old daughter Wanida.

The teenager’s sister, said her mother bought the Somtam from a nearby stall and shared it with Wanida around midday last Saturday.

Wanida was stricken with diarrhea about 4am on Sunday, and the symptoms worsened. By noon an ambulance was called to take the ailing girl to hospital. She was unconscious by the time it arrived. Staff at the local hospital tried to resuscitate her, to no avail.

Ms Chananya said Wanida was a healthy teenager and free of any chronic disease. A doctor had attributed her death to a severe gastrointestinal infection. She warned others to eat only cooked food.

Somtam Vendor shocked and saddened by the death of the teenager

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Vendor Samruay Thongnarin, 50, said she was shocked and saddened by the death of the teenager. But expressed disbelief that the Somtam dish sold at her stall was the cause.

She said she had been selling Somtam for almost one year and always bought fermented fish from the same stall at the market. She neither added anything nor cooked the fermented fish as most customers preferred the taste.

According to Khaosod Online, Ms Samruay said the girl’s mother was a regular customer of her stall. Ms Kachorn usually ordered Somtam with no fermented fish as she had allergies that resulted in itching if she ate it.

But on Aug 24, she ordered Somtam Lao with fermented fish, saying she would share it with her daughter.

She said she was saddened to learn that Wanida had died after eating Somtam Lao at her stall. The teenager regularly ate Somtum there and had never developed any symptoms.

Other customers also bought Somtam Lao and nobody had showed any sign of illness, she added.