Rat poison mistaken for sweets lands scores of kids in hospital

At least 41 children aged between three and five who ingested rat poison after mistaking it for sweets are getting medical attention.

The 41 minors underwent medical examinations at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, and 17 of them were admitted for overnight treatment on Monday, while the other 24 were allowed to return home after being discharged.

The department of health in the province stated that investigations were being carried out to get additional information about the rat poison incident, which is said to have occurred at a preschool.

Parents asked to play big part

“Another food poisoning incident has been reported where 10 people [two adults and eight children] were referred to Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital in Ekurhuleni from Ramokonopi Community Health Centre on Monday night,“ said Khutso Ramathata, the department’s acting communications head.

Ramathata said the two adults were discharged after receiving medical care, and two children were also discharged in the morning, while the six remaining children are in a stable condition.

“These two incidents bring the total number of food-borne incidents recorded cumulatively to 863, which have sadly claimed 11 lives since the first incident in October 2023.

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

Food safety requirements

The department urged the community to play its part and enforce adherence to food safety requirements to avoid similar occurrences in the future and safeguard children’s wellness.

“The department’s public health mobilisation team continues to drive educational campaigns in the townships, informal settlements, and hostels to educate communities about the dangers of food-borne diseases and empower them with food safety tips such as food handling, preparation, storage, the importance of checking food expiry labels, and hand washing before handling food.”

Meanwhile, those experiencing symptoms such as fever, chills, cramping, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea, which may be bloody in some cases, stomachaches, sudden swelling of the face, and body aches or weakness, are encouraged to visit their nearest health facilities for medical attention.

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