Dharamsala, Sept 21: A student of Lower Tibetan Children's Village school died, and nearly 300 others have fallen ill after a food poisoning epidemic broke out in the school late last week, people with knowledge of the matter said.
At least a hundred students, who have been affected by the food poisoning outbreak, are receiving treatment at Delek Hospital, while the rest have been admitted to other hospitals in Dharamsala, including Dr. Rajendra Prasad Medical College.
Officials at the Department of Health and at TCV could not be immediately reached for comment.
The outbreak is suspected to have originated from a chowmein or stir-fried noodles dish that was served to students. All students affected by the outbreak have common symptoms of fever, diarrhoea, and vomiting, doctors have said.
Speculation is also rife that the outbreak may have been caused by drinking water.
Delek Hospital’s Dr. Kunchok Dorjee, speaking to mediapersons, said there was no reason to panic, and that a major disaster had been averted, thanks to the timely admission of the affected students to various hospitals.
As a precautionary measure, the Lower TCV school campus will remain closed for the next five days, according to a source, who spoke on conditions of anonymity. Parents and guardians living nearby Dharamsala have been asked to get their wards out of the school for 5 days.
Media reports suggest that a government investigation committee has been formed to probe into the matter.
Dr Tseten, the Chief Medical Officer at Delek Hospital, said the victims mostly complained of vomiting, stomach pain, dysentery and dehydration.
He said the exact cause of the mass sickness was yet to be established, but added that food poisoning had been suspected.
He said most of the victims have been discharged after they were found in stable condition.
“Currently there are up to 40 children under our observation and their situation is not that serious. There is no need to be concerned about,” Dr Tseten said.
Similar cases had also occurred in the past in a nearby another Tibetan school here.
Dr Tseten confirmed that two cases have occurred in the past at the Tibetan Transit School, an adult education centre for newly arrived Tibetan refugees located not far from the LTCV School, that he suspected were of possible water contamination.
“The cases at the Tibetan Transit School were more serious and so many more victims were hospitalised as a result,” he said.
At the time, specialists from relevant local health department took water and food samples for examination, but the exact cause had not been established.