RANGOON — About 400 people were hospitalized from an outbreak of food poisoning on Thursday evening after eating at a Buddhist ordination ceremony in Myaungmya Township, Irrawaddy Division.
Wai Lin Aung, founder of the Compassionate Youths Association Myaungmya—which transported the patients to the hospital—said there had been no problem with the food served at the morning ordination ceremony, but that many of those who ate in the evening suffered from food poisoning.
Rice, hilsa fish curry and maezali bud soup were served.
Wai Lin Aung said there were not enough ambulances and that private cars, trucks and vehicles from other social service organizations were used to get all of the patients to the hospital.
Myaungmya General Hospital could not accommodate all of the patients so authorities built makeshift tents in the hospital precinct, he said.
Dr. Kyaw Zwa Lwin, superintendent of the Myaungmya General Hospital, said 79 children and 288 adults were hospitalized overnight. Among them, 270 patients said they felt seriously ill.
“Most of them were vomiting, feeling faint and experiencing diarrhea. Luckily, we could control the outbreak within 24 hours and there were no fatalities,” he said.
He said that the symptoms pointed to an E. coli infection.
Samples of foods served at the ceremony were sent to a national lab in Rangoon to be examined.
The hospital superintendent said for now, only six children and two adults were still being monitored at the hospital for residual symptoms of shock.
He said public health, hand-washing, environmental sanitation and food safety awareness campaigns were being conducted in the region as food poisoning occurs frequently, particularly in the hot season.
“We need more awareness for protection,” he said.