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86 Prisoners, Infant Hospitalised in Mumbai’s Byculla Jail

In Health, Nation
July 23, 2018

As many as as 85 women inmates of Byculla jail, along with a male inmate and a four-month-old child of a prisoner, were admitted to the JJ Group of hospitals on Friday with vomiting and diarrhoea. Stating that there was no clarity on what led to the incident, hospital authorities said all women were stable and none of them had complained of vomiting or diarrhoea since they were brought to the hospital around 9.30 am.
Inspector General of Prisons Rajvardhan Sinha said that the prisoners may have reacted to a strong dose of medicine given by the municipal health department on Thursday as a precautionary measure to prevent cholera. “Soon after taking the medicine, the inmates started vomiting. We sent them to hospital as a precaution. Most are stable,” he said.
However, Dr Wiqar Shaikh, heading a team of over 30 resident doctors who are treating the inmates, said: “This reaction has not happened because of any medicine. This has happened due to the monsoon season.” The cause appeared to be contaminated food or water, he added.
Three days ago, a 26-year-old male prisoner from Byculla jail was diagnosed with cholera at JJ hospital. Following this, the BMC administered a dose of prophylactic tablets to about 800 people in the jail, including 600 prisoners and staffers, to prevent spread of cholera. The jail has 390 male and 210 female inmates.
Shaikh said the inmates started complaining of stomach ache, nausea and diarrhoea on Thursday night and were initially treated in the prison. However, when the problem continued, the jail officials transferred the prisoners to the hospital.
The patients include two pregnant women who have been referred to the gynecology department. The four-month-old child has been shifted to the paediatric department, Shaikh added.
“We will be able to comment on what led to the incident only after the test reports arrive. We have taken blood, urine and stool samples and sent them for testing. We are hoping the reports will be out in the next 24 hours,” said Shaikh, adding that one of the prisoners has been tested for cholera.
The women would be kept under observation for the next 48 hours, said Shaikh. Doctors claimed that as only one male prisoner had contracted cholera, it is unlikely that the women would test positive.
A bacterial infection, cholera causes diarrhoea and dehydration and can be fatal if left untreated. It is caused by drinking contaminated water.
Samples were also collected from water tanks of Byculla jail on Thursday and again on Friday morning to check for the presence of vibrio choperae bacteria.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), meanwhile, said that cholera medicines are administered routinely during the monsoons and are not responsible for diarrhoea. Officials said only women prisoners had suffered diarrhoea, indicating contamination in a water tank.
A senior official said that over 2 lakh doxycycline doses have been distributed among residents all over Mumbai to prevent water-borne diseases. The same medicine was administered to prisoners and employees at Byculla jail. “The doxycycline medicine can cause acidity if taken in an empty stomach. It can lead to vomiting. We suspect this may be the case with the female prisoners,” a senior health official said.
The IG said that clean up of the prison is underway and the immediate focus is to stabilise the patients. “There is no need for inquiry as of now,” he added.
Dr Sanjay Surase, medical superintendent at JJ hospital, said the patients are suffering from vomiting, lose motion, abdominal pain and dehydration. “Treatment is on. All are under observation,” he added.
So far, Mumbai has recorded three cases of cholera, including the latest one, this monsoon. A 42-year-old migrant worker was admitted to Kasturba hospital on July 13 and diagnosed with cholera. The Hathi Baug resident worked in a local shop in Mazgaon and suffered acute diarrhoea after consuming suspected contaminated water or food. Also, a Dana Bunder resident near Masjid Bunder station tested positive for cholera. The 50-year-old labourer was admitted to Nair hospital on June 28.