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By Chulumanco Mahamba

Digital Night Supervisor

41 children hospitalised after rat poison consumption

Gauteng Department of Health investigates as children mistakenly ingest rat poison, raising serious concerns.

The spike in food poisoning cases in Gauteng, especially involving children, is deeply concerning the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH).

This comes after 41 children, between the ages of three and five, were sent to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto for medical treatment on Monday for allegedly consuming rat poison and mistaking it for candy.

In another food poisoning incident, 10 people, two adults and eight children, were referred to Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital in Ekurhuleni from Ramokonopi Community Health Centre on Monday night.

Status of patients

The department said that of the 41 children, 17 were admitted for overnight observation at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, while the remaining 24 were discharged home.

“This incident is reported to have taken place at a preschool, and investigations are being conducted to establish more facts,” GDoH said.

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At Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital, the two adults were discharged after receiving medical care on Monday night, and two children were discharged on Tuesday morning, while the six remaining children are still admitted to the hospital and in stable condition.

863 incidents since October 2023

According to the department, Monday’s two cases bring the total number of foodborne incidents recorded to 863, with 11 lives claimed since the first incident in October 2023.

“The Department calls on all arms of society, particularly parents and caregivers to play their part in protecting children from the risks of food poisoning to safeguard their health and prevent further incidents,” the GDoH said.

It added that on Tuesday, the department’s public health unit dispatched a team comprising an epidemiologist, health promotion officers, and environmental health officers to the facilities to assess the environment, advise where there are gaps, etc.

Food poisoning symptoms

“The Gauteng department of health will continue working tirelessly to address food safety concerns and provide the necessary support and resources to our communities.”

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GDoH further urged people experiencing symptoms such as fever, chills, cramping, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea, which may be bloody in some cases, stomach aches, sudden swelling of the face, and body aches or weakness to visit their nearest health facilities for medical attention.