The 90 students of Drametse Central School in Mongar, who were suspected of food poisoning, suffered from acute watery diarrhoea, medically known as viral gastroenteritis, according to the report compiled by the doctor of Bartsham basic health unit (BHU).

The students were admitted at the Drametse BHU on June 12.

The Bartsham BHU doctor, Sonam Wangmo, in her report stated that the students suffered from acute abdominal pain followed by loose watery stool, headaches with nausea and non-projectile vomiting.

She stated that some students complained of fever. “The duration of symptoms persisted for 24 hours only.”

The report stated that the school faced a shortage of water throughout the academic year, the poorly planned location of waste disposal and sanitary pad disposal.

The school also did not have adequate ventilation for the kitchen, which posed a high risk for students to be later suffering from acute respiratory infection (ARI).

The report also stated that there was inadequate ventilation for the store, poorly managed storerooms, no refrigerator for the storage of meat items and vegetables and the cooks didn’t wear a proper uniform during working hours and poor personal hygiene maintained.

“Based on above clinical finding and environmental survey done on June 12, a medical team came to a provisional diagnosis of acute watery diarrhoea, viral gastroenteritis or bacterial gastroenteritis, caused by poor environmental sanitation and personal hygiene.

The report stated that the medical team, in coordination with the school faculty, gave symptomatic treatment. “Health education on foodborne illness, significance on maintaining a personal hygiene like proper hand washing, and proper waste disposal importance were given.”

The team also emphasised on the importance of environmental sanitation and to provide the students with good water supply throughout the academic year.

The Drametse Central School principal, Passang Wangdi, said they are grateful to the health officials for the immediate intervention and feedback.

He said water is scarce in Drametse but the school manage by providing water to the students on time. “We ensure that water doesn’t run out even for a single day.”

The principal said the water connection to the new girls’ toilet is disrupted due to the ongoing blacktopping of the road.

He said sanitary pad disposal pits are dug close to the girls’ toilets for conveniences.

He also claimed that the school kitchen is outside with proper shed and ventilation and they don’t allow the students to enter the kitchen.

The principal questioned the relation between the cooks not wearing a proper dress to food poisoning. “The students serve the meals, not cooks.”

He said the school do not store the meat and a cooperative supply the vegetables on weekends. “Drametse is a cold place and vegetables usually do not perish within a week.”

Tashi Phuntsho| Drametse