Stomach flu outbreak in Manipal – food and water sent for testing2 min read
MANIPAL: Since the last weekend of October, several students of Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) have been grappling with a stomach flu epidemic. Though the root cause of this epidemic is unknown, people suspect the contamination of food and water provided to students in the Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) hostel mess and food courts around the campus. Students from some MIT hostels also reported a change in the smell and taste of water from the water dispenser.
Following this outbreak, close to 30 samples of water from around the campus were sent for testing in the Microbiology Lab in Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Manipal, to check for the presence of bacteria and substances that explain the outbreak. Samples of food and water were also sent to the Environmental Testing Lab of MIT to check for any pollutants that might have been a cause. Samples were also sent to Environment Management Labs in Mangalore to test for pollutants.
MAHE authorities suspected the malfunctioning of the coolers in the water dispensers at the hostels due to lack of cleaning as the reason behind the contamination. When asked about the testing, Colonel Prakash Chandra, Director of General Services, MAHE, said, “The quality of water was tracked right from the source, which is 18 kilometres away. We found out that it was fine until it reached Manipal. It may have gotten contaminated by bacteria when it was being transported to the hostels.”
He also mentioned how the maintenance department carries out preventive maintenance checks on all the water filters once a month. “This situation could’ve been avoided if it was reported immediately to the plumbing department,” he added.
It was after the testing that water was found negative of contaminants and was proved fit for drinking. The water was tested for contaminants like E.Coli bacteria, lead, boron with results stating they are negative for the same. Mekki T M, Senior Manager of Civil Engineering, MAHE, added that they will now increase the frequency of maintenance checks to prevent such outbreaks in the future. He also suggested that the outbreak of stomach flu might have been caused by the eating of unhygienic food at stalls outside the campus.
In the time leading up to the test results being released, water dispensers and filters across the campus, in hostels and in food courts were shut down, forcing students to resort to buying packaged filtered water. Students were also prescribed ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) and high intake of electrolytes to combat the flu. “We were all given common prescriptions from KMC and it was circulated on many WhatsApp groups which helped a lot of us,” said Sarah, a first-year at MIT who was also affected by the stomach flu.
The situation was brought to its conclusion with an official notice sent out by the Chief Warden’s Office, stating the clear results and recommending that students avoid eating from unhygienic food stalls.
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Edited by: Rayna Lele