Over 80 women inmates of Mumbai jail suffer ‘food poisoning’, hospitalised

Prisoners at Byculla jail rushed to JJ Hospital with abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea; 4-month-old son of a prisoner also admitted.

Two pregnant women were among 85 female inmates of Byculla jail who were rushed to JJ Hospital on Friday for severe abdomen pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. One male inmate and a prisoner’s fourmonth-old son were also taken to the hospital. All the patients are responding to treatment and are stable, said the hospital, but added that they would be kept under observation for 48 hours. The cause is yet to be established. Food and water samples from the jail are being tested by the FDA and BMC respectively.

While 81 female prisoners and the baby were taken to hospital in the morning, four more women and one male inmate were hospitalised last night, taking the total number up to 87, confirmed Dr Mukund Tayade, dean of JJ hospital.

A 34-year-old inmate Mirror spoke to said she was suffering from loose motion and vomiting from Thursday night. “It was only when many started feeling ill in the morning that they took us to hospital,” she said.

Another inmate added, “Everyone started feeling sick after eating dinner. The jail doctor was called to check and he gave medicines too but we got no relief.”

“It looks like an outbreak of a monsoon-related ailment. We have taken their blood, urine, and stool samples and sent it for testing,” he added.

“It can be due to contaminated water or food,” opined Dr Mukund Tayade, dean of Sir JJ Hospital, adding, “All the patients are stable and we have kept them for observation. We are still investigating the clinical history of the cases.”As a precautionary measure, the other inmates – 390 male, 231 female and 29 children — were examined, as was the prison staff.

“When the inmates began vomiting and become dehydrated, we called the doctors,” said Rajvardhan Sinha, Inspector General (prisons), “The number of cases started increasing within a few minutes. The civic body has taken water samples and the FDA has taken food samples and sent them for testing.”

“We are waiting for the pathology report, which will reveal the exact reason. Also, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) water department has taken water samples. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken food samples. At present we are giving the prisoners distilled and purified water. Also, the complete jail cleanliness process is been started as a precautionary measure,” said Rajvardhan Sinha, inspector general of police (prisons).

Sinha said this episode began on July 15. “A male prisoner suffered from cholera three days ago and was given medicines. To prevent an outbreak, all the prisoners were given medicines by the health department,” Sinha said. The cholera patient is one of five prisoners who complained of vomiting and stomach pain on July 15.

All five were shifted to JJ Hospital. After admission, cholera was diagnosed in a male prisoner.

Dr Padmaja Keskar, executive health officer of BMC, told, “One male prisoner tested positive for cholera and is being treated at JJ hospital. As a protocol, our health officials had visited Byculla jail and, as a precautionary measure, we given Doxycycline medicine to all male prisoners.”

A total of 399 male and 312 female prisoners are lodged at Byculla jail.