Kerala: Food poisoning outbreak in Kochi apartment; nearly 340 people affected

Health department has been receiving complaints of food poisoning since 1 June, however, the number of cases have consistently increased.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 18, 2024 | 12:11 PM Updated Jun 18, 2024 | 10:59 PM

food poisoning

An apartment complex in Kochi has recently reported a severe food poisoning outbreak. The health emergency has affected around 340 residents, including children, who are undergoing medical treatment.

According to the health department, they have been receiving complaints of food poisoning since 1 June, however, the number of cases has been consistently increasing.

While the cause is not yet known, initial reports suggested E.coli bacteria in the drinking water might have caused the food poisoning. Health officials have collected the water samples, to ascertain the exact cause.

All the affected residents are now stable, and there have not been any critical cases.

Meanwhile, the flat association representatives speaking to the media said that, with the space being a residential complex with a large number of people, the cause could also be outside food, “As the residents of the complex tend to eat outside, and through online delivery services such as Swiggy and Zomato. Contamination or viral infection can come from any source.”

They further said even the source of drinking water is also not uniform, “The apartment complex has multiple sources of water, from KWA (Kerala Water Authority), well water, borewell, and also rainwater.”

However, since the outbreak, the apartment complex has been using only tanker water, in an attempt to eliminate the potential cause.

Strong measures to be taken

Calling it a serious incident, Kerala Health Minister Veena George said strong measures will be taken to prevent such incidents in the future.

The minister further added, “Interventions under the Kerala Public Health Act will be initiated.”

Speaking of the incident, George said, “I was alerted about the outbreak on 17 June, when a resident from the flat informed me. I then instructed the Director of Health Services to look into it. A special team from the health department arrived there and collected samples.”

“Though flat residents told me that over 700 people fell ill, as per official reports received from the health department, around 340 people sought treatment and five are hospitalised presently,” the minister said.

Responding to a question about lapses from the health department, George said, “People availed treatment from various private hospitals, due to which the health department didn’t know about the outbreak.”

“However, any lapses will be enquired, such as regarding the delay in the health department being alerted,” she added.

“Those taking care of the day-to-day running of the apartment complex had the responsibility of informing the health authorities about the issue. Therefore, there has been a violation of the norms and the officials have been asked to take appropriate action against that as well,” George said.

This incident follows a recent outbreak of Hepatitis A in early June, in a nearby gram panchayat in Ernakulam, Vengoor Grama Panchayat which also saw widespread illness among residents.

Authorities said they are closely monitoring the situation and implementing measures to prevent further spread of the infection.

The health department has urged the residents to take necessary precautions, including boiling water before consumption and maintaining strict hygiene practices, until the source of the contamination is confirmed and addressed.

Also Read: Kerala steps up fight against Hepatitis A, turns to ‘PLEX’ as cases pile up

(Edited by Sumavarsha Kandula, with inputs from Dileep V Kumar and PTI.)