350 devotees fall ill from contaminated prasad

Barwani: Contaminated ‘prasad’ distributed by an ashram has made hundreds of devotees severely ill on the occasion of Maha Shivratri near Peepri village under Anjad police station limits of the district on February 13.
More than 350 devotees were admitted to district and two private hospitals in the district headquarters, while 30 others were being undergoing treatment at Anjad itself after eating the prasad.
Several teams of doctors and ambulances arrived at the spot, some 15 kilometer away from Barwani, to ferry victims away for treatment. “As many as 1000 devotees had khichdi and halwa at the bhandara of Nakhoon Wale Baba Ashram located on the banks of Narmada river near Dahi Baida. They started vomiting after taking the prasad due to food poisoning,” Barwani chief medical and health officer Dr VB Jain told TOI.
“We raced doctors and other medical support to the village as soon as it was told of the poisoning outbreak,” said Jain adding that the victims were admitted at Sai Hospital and Mahamrityunjaya Hospital, besides the district hospital.
The drug inspector’s initial report revealed that devotees were served a sweet dish made up of potatoes and mawa 40 hours ago. It might be a reason for the food poisoning, said he.
Devotees from villages-Dharora, Peepri, Segaon, Borlai and other nearby areas, attended the bhandara. “Condition of all the victims being treated at district hospital is stable. A team has been sent to the spot for investigation. Also, medical teams have been sent to conduct door-to-door survey in the villages,” district collector Tejaswi Naik told TOI.
“I started vomiting as soon as I reached my home after taking khichdi and halwa, said 12-year-old Vipin Yadav, who was gasping with pain.
District hospital was jam-packed with the affected and its management was exposed when several women and adults were made to lie on floor and hooked up to IV drips for treatment of severe dehydration. Some appeared to be doubled over, apparently from stomach cramps.
Terming it a tragic incident, Congress MLA Ramesh Patel said that he will demand posting of more doctors at district hospital in the Assembly.
“The bhandara is being organized on Shivratri for the past 25 years. But this unfortunate incident has happened for the first time,” said Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Rahul Yadav.

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