Eighty-one inmates of Byculla women’s prison here were hospitalised on Friday morning after they fell ill, with officials suspecting that food poisoning, contaminated water or a medicine reaction could be the reason behind the illness.
An anti-viral medicine was administered to all prison inmates and staff on Thursday, after which some prisoners had complained of uneasiness, a top prison official said.
The prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, Indrani Mukerjea, who is lodged in the same prison, was not among those admitted to the hospital, jail officials said.
Earlier in the day, the dean of the state-run J J Hospital, Mukund Tayade, said all those admitted complained of vomiting, nausea and loose motions.
“None of the patients are in a serious condition and they are responding well to treatment,” Tayade said, adding that they would be kept under observation for 48 hours.
The sick prisoners included two 24-week pregnant women, and a four-month-old son of one of the admitted inmates.
A doctor attending the prisoners said that prima-facie it seemed to be a case of food poisoning.
Inmates began to be taken to the J J hospital around 9.45 AM, said a prison official.
Inspector General (Prison) Rajvardhan Sinha told to reporters in the evening that on July 15, three to four male prisoners (from a separate wing of the prison) were admitted to J J hospital for gastroenteritis.
Doctors found that one of them had symptoms similar to cholera.
“As a matter of protocol and precaution, on the advice by doctors and the health department, all prisoners and staff members were given prophylactic medicine Doxycycline 100 MG on Thursday,” the IG said.
Afterwards, some prisoners complained of vomiting and upset stomach and they were treated by prison doctors.
But more prisoners complained of vomiting and dehydration on Friday, so they were sent to the J J Hospital, Sinha said, adding the cause of the illness could be contaminated water, food or reaction to the medicine, but it will be ascertained after pathology reports become available.
Samples of the drinking water and food provided to the prisoners are being tested, Sinha informed reporters.
The prison, which houses 312 inmates, was in news last year when Manju Shette (45), a convict, died after being allegedly beaten up by jail officials. Six officials were arrested in the case.