Around 200 children in three districts of West Bengal fell sick on Wednesday after being administered deworming tablets.
“Two hundred children have been admitted to hospitals in the three districts of South and North 24-Parganas and East Midnapore with symptoms of pain in the abdomen, vertigo and vomiting,” state director of health services Biswaranjan Satpathy said.
He said the tablets were given to 82 lakh children in 11 districts of the state.
The official said, “Many are having panic attacks, which is purely psychological after hearing the news that some others have fallen ill.”
However, they have sent samples of the medicine for lab testing.
“We have no doubt whatsoever on the Albendazole tablets. Their expiry date is August,” Satpathy said.
Deworming tablets are given to children to remove worms from their bodies. Parasitic worms known as soil-transmitted helminths and schistosomes cause various infections.
An unofficial report from the South 24-Parganas district, however, said around 1,000 children of various schools at Basanti were hospitalised.
Dr Tarun Roy, in-charge of health in the zilla parishad, said the number of affected students in Jainagar and Gosaba were much less. They were admitted to Basanti hospital.
Roy, a medical practitioner, explained that the sickness could be partly attributed to the fact that the tablets were taken in empty stomachs while for others it could be panic.
Rumour of death of some children after taking the tablet also contributed to the panic, he said.
In Midnapore district where unconfirmed reports said more than 1,000 were affected, people put up road blockades at Tamluk and Moyna in protest.