At least 895 people, including 200 children, were taken ill after consuming 'prasad' (food distributed to devotees) after prayers to Hindu god Ganesh in their school in Orissa's Mayurbhanj district, an official said Wednesday.
Around 200 students of Nodal English Medium School and Ashram School at Rangamatia village, near Baripada, around 260 kms from Bhubaneswar, jointly held prayers on Sunday in their school campus as part of the ongoing Ganesh festival.
Once the rituals were over, they all ate prasad - a sweet mixture of flattened rice, jaggery and banana - provided by the school authorities, District Medical Officer Rabinarayan Kanungo said. Many children also took the prasad home to their family members, he added.
All those who consumed the preparation complained of health problems like fever, vomiting and loose motions. "We came to know after people came to the local hospital for treatment," said Kanungo. Local health officials have been rushed to treat the affected people."
Kanungo said, at least 895 people have taken ill since Sunday. He added that around 54 are undergoing treatment in the local hospital and 80 in a hospital in Baripada, which is the district headquarters. The remaining are being treated in their homes. The condition of all the patients is stable, he said.
District health officials have collected the food samples for testing to ascertain the cause of food poisoning, said Kanungo.