Two persons, including a minor, staying in a residential school for the mentally challenged in Igatpuri in Nashik district died on Wednesday due to suspected food poisoning. The school was part of Igatpuri Children Welfare Programme run by a private trust – Punyatma Prabhakar Sharma Seva Mandal.
Ten other children have been admitted to hospitals in Igatpuri and Nashik.
One of the deceased, a 23-year-old, belonged to Bhiwandi while the 11-year-old minor hailed from Nashik. The duo started showing symptoms such as loose motions and vomiting on Tuesday evening. Following a visit to the local rural health facility, both were sent back with medicines, officials said. However, as their condition deteriorated on Wednesday morning, staff from the residential facility took them to the nearby rural hospital where they were declared dead on arrival.
“As soon as we got this information, a team was rushed to the centre which led to the medical check-up of all other residents. Similar symptoms – loose motion and vomiting — were found in eight other children out of which four with minor symptoms are admitted to the Igatpuri Rural Hospital whereas two were taken to Nashik Civil Hospital where they are now stable,” said Yogesh Patil, Zilla Parishad (ZP) Social Welfare Officer, Nashik District. Patil said he will issue a show cause notice to the trust running the centre.
Food and water samples from the residential facility have been sent to the laboratory for further investigation.
Family members of both the deceased have reached Igatpuri after receiving information about the deaths.
Dr Mohammed TurabAli Deshmukh, Taluka Health Officer, Igatpuri, said: “The clinical report shows death due to dehydration. This may have been caused due to loose motion and vomiting. But what caused the two symptoms has to be verified. We need to check whether it was a case of food poisoning or waterborne infection. The viscera samples of the deceased have been preserved and sent to the forensic lab for further investigation.”
Following the developments, the district social welfare department on Wednesday appointed a 24-hour medical representative at the residential facility to look after 92 other residents who continue to stay on the premises.
The Children Welfare Programme with residential facility includes two schools – Anusuyatmaja Matimanda Niwasi Vidyalaya (residential school for mentally challenged) and Indirabharti Karnabadhir Niwasi Vidyalaya (residential school for children with hearing impairment) housing children below 18 years of age. Another centre – Rukmabai Apang Yuvak Swayamsahayata Kendra – houses residents above 18.
“Considering that both who died are mentally challenged, it is being suspected that they were not able to communicate the physical troubles they were facing. There is still no clarity on what might have caused this…The food is prepared at the centre and they also have a water purifier installed on the premises,” said Parmeshwar Kasule, Tehsildar, Igatpuri.
Despite repeated attempts, the head of the Children Welfare Programme at Igatpuri was not available for comment.