Culture & Lifestyle / School Meal Food Poisoning Reports Spread To Goa After Bihar

School Meal Food Poisoning Reports Spread To Goa After Bihar

Culture & Lifestyle Jul 20, 2013


In just a few days two separate Indian schools are believed to have poisoned children via their lunches according to police reports.

At least 23 students in the southwestern coastal state of Goa were treated at a hospital after they got sick at lunch, authorities said. The students, in the third to fifth grades at St. Joseph School, have been released from treatment, Vishram Borkar, a police superintendent in Goa, told CNN.

"They have been immediately shifted to the Ponda ID (Infectious Diseases) hospital for treatment. It appears to be a case of food poisoning," the official said. The incident comes barely days after 23 school children in Bihar's Saran district died after eating contaminated food.


Children being treated in Bihar hospital

Within minutes of eating a meal of rice and potato curry in the eastern state of Bihar on Tuesday, the children began to fall ill, a cook at the school at the centre of the outbreak told Reuters from her hospital bed.

The children, aged four to 12, died after vomiting and convulsing from agonizing stomach cramps, officials and relatives said. Death came so quickly for some that they died in their parents’ arms while being taken to hospital. 23 students died and 25 people were hospitalized.

There were two cooks at the Bihar school, an official told CNN. One of the cook, Panna Devi's one of 3 kids — ate the toxic food and have died, medical superintendent Amarkant Jha Amar told CNN. Her third child who ate the food and is improving at a hospital, the medical chief said.

The other cook, Manju Devi, is also hospitalized, along with her three children, Amar added.

Savita, a 12-year-old student who uses only one name, said she had a stomach ache after eating soybeans and potatoes and started vomiting.

"I don't know what happened after that," Savita said in an interview at Patna Medical College Hospital, where she and many other children were recovering.

The lunch was cooked in the school kitchen.

The children were rushed to a local hospital and later to Patna for treatment, said state official Abhijit Sinha.

In addition to the 23 children who died, another 25 children and the school cook were in hospital undergoing treatment, P.K. Sahi, the state education minister. Three children were in serious condition.


Prayers continue for the children

After the Bihar tragedy, demonstrations sprang up around the area as people angrily demanded answers. One news video showed men apparently attacking a school bus with sticks. Others gathered together and held signs. Students at nearby schools refused to eat. A group that supplies lunches to schools in the Chhapra district of Patna was attacked.

Officials believe the poison was an organophosphorus compound, a type of chemical that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is commonly used in agriculture.

It's a nerve agent related to sarin gas, which is used in chemical warfare, the U.S. Health Department says. Exposure to a high dose can cause an irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, paralysis and seizures.

India's midday meal scheme is one of the world's biggest school nutrition programs. State governments have the freedom to decide on menus and timings of the meals, depending on local conditions and availability of food rations. It was first introduced in southern India, where it was seen as an incentive for poor parents to send their children to school.

Since then the program has been replicated across the country, covering some 120 million school children. It's as part of an effort to address concerns about malnutrition, which the government says nearly half of all Indian children suffer from.

Sources : CNN.com, thestar.com, Huffingtonpost.com, Indiatoday.in
Images: thestar.com & AFP
FeatureImage: AFP

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