Mumbai, (The Hindu): A possible contamination in food and water in Byculla jail landed 85 female prisoners, one male inmate, and a four-month-old boy in JJ Hospital on Friday. Two of the women are six months pregnant.
Of the patients, 81 women had complained of abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea since Thursday night, but they were brought to the hospital when their condition worsened on Friday morning. Four more female inmates and one male inmate were rushed to JJ hospital with similar complaints on Friday night.
The first group of 10 patients was taken to JJ at 9.40 a.m. In the next four hours, the number went up to 82. “Many of them were extremely drowsy and dehydrated by the time they reached the hospital. They had to be brought on stretchers,” Dr. Sanjay Surase, medical superintendent, said. All the patients are now stable and responding well to treatment.
On Thursday night, the inmates had the regular dinner of rice, daal, chapati and a vegetable dish. A few hours later, when some of them complained of uneasiness, they were given a prophylactic dose of doxycycline 100mg, which helps control bacterial infections. Their condition deteriorated by this morning.
“The women have come in with very typical symptoms of monsoon-related illness. There is a possibility that the food, water or both consumed by them was contaminated and it led to the illness,” treating physician Dr. Wiqar Shaikh said.
According to Dr. Shaikh, it is mostly likely that the infectious organism was present only in one container or a batch of food.
The infant who was admitted was breastfed by his mother which could be the reason for his illness. “He only had history of vomiting once. The baby is doing fine and is under observation,” paediatrician Dr. Bela Verma said.
Docs await test results
Dr. Shaikh said blood, urine and stool samples of all the patients are being tested. “We have sent the samples for the hanging drop test which detects cholera. There are so many other viruses or bacteria like salmonella, enterococci, and E-coli, which may have caused this. The test reports will clear the picture,” he said, adding intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and anti-vomiting medication administered to the patients have worked.
Gynaecologist Dr. Ashok Anand said the two pregnant women in their twenties have been evaluated and their unborn babies are doing fine.
Cholera in men’s jail
A male inmate from Byculla jail had first complained of severe vomiting and diarrhoea and was admitted to JJ Hospital on Monday. On Wednesday, he tested positive for cholera. “He is currently admitted to the critical care unit of the hospital,” Dr. Mukund Tayde, dean of the hospital, said.
Cholera is infectious and the cramped jail conditions are ideal for its spread. Doctors, however, said only a few women had complained of more than 15 to 20 episodes of vomiting and diarrhoea, but none of them required intensive care. They said the women have symptoms of gastroenteritis, but they have not ruled out cholera. Bycualla prison has 312 female inmates.
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