A feast that left a bitter taste

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BANGALORE:   At least 26 people, including 20 children, were taken ill on Wednesday night after they consumed items prepared for a feast at the Ganesh festival celebrations at Bescom office in Fraser Town.

While some of the affected people were treated as outpatients at Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, 19 of them, including 15 children, were admitted at the hospital with symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting.

All the patients are residents of a slum on Lazer Road, who trooped into the Bescom office around 4 p.m. on Wednesday to eat the leftover food after the feast. While some of them ate the food comprising rice, sambar, pulao, dosa and other sweets, besides payasa, at the Ganesha pandal erected on the office premises, others packed it and took it for family and friends in the locality.

Soon, several of them complained of diarrhoea and vomiting. When asked the BBMP health officials were non-committal on whether the food samples were collected as most of the vessels were washed.

Murugan. A., whose three-year-old daughter Prema, was one of those who fell sick, said that majority of the children drank payasa. “While some of the adults were able to manage after taking a few tablets, the children were really sick.

The persons who fell sick were first taken to private hospitals nearby after which they were rushed to Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital in autos, ambulances and two-wheelers.

Lying on the hospital bed, Kogilu (26) said that she drank two glasses of payasa as it was very “tasty”. “Who knew that this would happen to us,” she added as she complained of weakness and fatigue. Explaining the plight of the slum-dwellers, Mythili M., who was hired to wash vessels at the Bescom office, took back a tiffin carrier full of food for her family as they were refused entry into the premises. “In my family, six of the 13 people fell sick last night after eating the food.”

Saraswathi D., whose granddaughter fell sick said, “We ate food which would have cost us Rs. 15, but in return had to spend close to Rs. 1,500 for medicines and the tests at the hospital. In addition, many of us have missed our daily wages on Thursday.”

Meanwhile, an official at the Bescom Fraser Town office said that close to 1,000 employees from Bescom East division 5 had come for the Ganesh celebrations. “Even I ate all the food items that were prepared for the lunch and I did not fall sick. All our employees are fine and have reported for work on Thursday”, an official said.

S. Rajanna, Resident Medical Officer (RMO) of the hospital, said that all of them were stable and were out of danger and would be discharged soon. Pulikeshinagar police officials said that they have registered a case of negligence under Section 269 of the IPC (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease and danger to life) against the Bescom authorities.

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