Workers' sickness shrouded in mystery

Workers' sickness shrouded in mystery

Giddy: Garment workers being treated at a private hospital on Friday. DH photo

Shubha, an HR Executive in the factory,said,  "Some workers did inform me about their sickness and took leave. On Friday morning as I wished every worker at the gate, many  complained of stomach pain even before entering the floor."  Many workers were treated at the factory itself and others were sent to the nearby hospitals, she added.  

A total of 1,180 labourers are employed at Page Industries, manufacturers of Jockey garments, said Chandre Gowda. Of the 500 workers admitted to Narayana Hrudayala hospital, 356 were treated as outpatients. Thirty of them revisited the hospital. In all, about 60 patients were admitted, four of them in the ICU.  Two pregnant women were also among the victims of the suspected food poisoning.

Some workers were earlier taken to Vimalya Hospital. According to Dr Satish Babu, Resident Medical Officer of the hospital, around 100 workers visited them. He said, "The stomach upset could have been caused either by food or by water. Only tests will reveal the real cause." 

Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) doctors who inspected the spot stated that people who regurgitated may not have suffered from food poisoning but mainly from acidity. “Only 15 of the workers were found to have vomited and complained of giddiness. But the rest were not even affected,” said a BBMP doctor.

BBMP officials said that the factory had nearly 500 labourers on each floor working in a congested room with fabrics all over the place. “These conditions may have induced a chain reaction while regurgitating in the room,” said the doctor. It could be a case of panic, he added 

Doctors treating patients at the Narayana Hrudayalaya termed the whole situation as "hysteria".  Dr Murali Mohan, HoD of Pulmonology, said that only 10 per cent of them may have gastroenteritis, others have come with panic and anxiety.  
"Sometimes gastroenteritis takes hours to develop. We are suspecting food poisoning.”

Dr Shivaprasad, the ICU in-charge at the hospital said 15 workers were admitted in the ICU initially. One woman with severe drowsiness is still in the ICU. 

"We have examined the stool sample of one person which reveals amoebiasis infection. However, it needs to be established," he said.

Dr Thimmappa, District Health Officer said samples of water at three sources, food and water samples at the caterer's kitchen, cooking conditions including cook’s hygiene were checked. "The results of the samples are expected on Saturday”, he said.
The Hebbagodi police have registered a case for causing hurt by means of poison, etc. against the company and the catering agency which had supplied the food.

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