As many as 170 students of the NLC Girls’ Higher Secondary School in Neyveli Township fell sick immediately after taking mid-day meal on Thursday.

Except 12 girls who are still under observation at the general hospital, the rest are back in their home.

The girls developed common symptoms such as abdominal pain, head ache, vomiting and giddiness after lunch when they were served sambhar rice and eggs. During lunch, the students were not happy with the quality of the boiled eggs. As soon as they complained of uneasiness, they were all rushed to the NLC General Hospital for treatment.

While 12 of the students were administered intravenous fluid and antiboiotics, the rest were treated as out-patients. After retaining them in the hospital for observation for a couple hours, the girls were sent back home.

Preliminary investigation has revealed that they could have been afflicted with “food intolerance syndrome”. This condition could arise owing to three factors: intolerance to certain dishes; allergic reaction to certain ingredients in the food and spicy foodstuff. But, there is no clear explanation as to how 170 girl students developed such symptoms. Resident Medial Officer (RMO) of the hospital S. Jayamohan told TheHindu that only after the food samples were tested the real cause of the sickness would be known.

Soon after he received news about the students fallen sick, the RMO said he had kept medical teams ready to treat the students. “The condition of the 12 students now in hospital is stable. After admission they have neither vomited nor complained of any abdominal pain. However, they still have vomiting sensation. Hence, they will be kept in the hospital to study their condition overnight before deciding on their discharge,” Mr. Jayamohan said.

On information, Cuddalore district collector R. Kirlosh Kumar, along with a medical team led by Deputy Director of Health Services K.R. Jawahar rushed to the hospital. The collector immediately constituted a monitoring committee to inspect the surroundings of the school located at Block 11 of the township, kitchen and food articles.

“Food samples were collected and sent to the King Institute of Preventive Medicine, Guindy, for testing. Only after the results come, the real cause will be known,” said Dr. Jawahar.

All the affected students and their parents have been given a questionnaire intended to collect the details on their health condition, what food they took for breakfast, whether they had consumed food other than that was served in the school and so on. All these factors would help in the epidemiological investigation to arrive at the exact cause of the illness, he said adding that the medical team would stay in the hospital, along with regular staff, to monitor the health condition of the students.

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