Mass food poisoning: Coliform bacteria found in water samples collected from Kochi apartment, says Minister

A notice has been issued to the flat association under various sections of the Kerala Public Health Act, 2023, and the Indian Penal Code.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 21, 2024 | 11:26 AM Updated Jun 21, 2024 | 11:29 AM

Coliform in drinking water

The Kerala government on Thursday, 20 June, confirmed the presence of coliform bacteria in water samples collected from an apartment complex in Kochi, after over 490 people, including children, were hospitalised recently for food poisoning.

According to the Health Department, a total of 46 samples were collected from various sources, including overhead tanks, borewells, domestic taps, and wells.

State Health Minister Veena George in a release said the analysis has confirmed the presence of coliform bacteria in three samples.

“The traces were detected in a preliminary examination conducted on 19 samples. This shows that the water quality was bad. Super-chlorination process is being done under the supervision of the Health Department,” the minister said.

According to initial reports, about 340 people were affected, however, the number later rose to 490.

Coliform bacteria are organisms present in the environment and in the feces of all warm-blooded animals and humans.

Water treatment underway

Super-chlorination is a water treatment process in which chlorine is added in large amounts to the water supply system to ensure disinfection within a short time.

The release said a notice has been issued to the flat association under various sections of the Kerala Public Health Act, 2023, and the Indian Penal Code.

There are 4,095 residents in 15 towers of the complex.

In the notice, directions have been issued to the association to provide quality drinking water from approved agencies and to conduct super-chlorination at regular intervals.

“In a survey conducted, it was found that 492 people have displayed symptoms of illness,” it said.

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

Food-poisoning outbreak

Residents of the apartment complex at Kakkanad sought treatment for food poisoning in the last couple of days, prompting municipal and health authorities to inspect the water sources used by them.

Kakkanad is home to several IT firms.

The Health Department said it has been receiving complaints of food poisoning since 1 June, however, the number of cases consistently increased by 17 June.

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

Speaking of the incident earlier, Minister 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.”

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.

(With PTI inputs)

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