Two inmates die, more ill over food poisoning

NYAGATARE - Two juvenile prisoners detained at Nyagatare prison died last week, while thirteen others were hospitalized at Nyagatare hospital, from suspected food poisoning, The New Times has learnt.

NYAGATARE - Two juvenile prisoners detained at Nyagatare prison died last week, while thirteen others were hospitalized at Nyagatare hospital, from suspected food poisoning, The New Times has learnt.

The deceased were identified as Samuel Ndayizeye and another one only identified as Habimana aged 15 and 16 respectively.

When The New Times visited some of the patients at the hospital on Sunday, one of the doctors who treated the inmates confirmed that some symptoms reflected food poisoning.

“We admitted fifteen underage prisoners this week and they all had the same symptoms and signs of food poisoning.

They all had respiratory difficulties, constipation, bleeding and eye problems,” said Freddy Sangala, an internal medicine doctor and head of medical staff at Nyagatare hospital.

He said that all these are symptoms of food poisoning.
Sangala added that it is abnormal to receive more than five patients with the same symptoms. 

“The uniformity of the symptoms signals that something unique had happened to the patients- it was food poisoning.

We have so far transferred three of them to Kigali Central Hospital (CHUK). Several others are still with us here in Nyagatare,” he said.

Nyagatare doctors inspected the packed food the prisoners are fed on, highly suspecting that it could have expired.

‘We first admitted two prisoners and when others came in, we realized there was a big hygienic issue in the prison.

The Director of Nyagatare prison, the prisoner’s doctor and us, suspect the cause to have been expired food.”

He added that some food has been sent to the National University of Rwanda’s laboratory for confirmation, on whether it was contaminated.

Hadijah Nyiramigisha, 17, one of the patients at the hospital said that they developed the symptoms immediately after eating the food.

‘I first suffered constipation, then bleeding and later on my stomach became elastic. Many of my colleagues had similar problems, which prompted us to think that we had been poisoned,” she said from her Nyagatare hospital bed.

Yesterday, in a telephone interview, the director of Nyagatare prison, Assumutah Uwimana, confirmed the development but could not give details on whether there was food poisoning.

‘Yes, two underage prisoners died this week and others are hospitalized at Nyagatare hospital over unidentified cause of illness,’ she said.

She however admitted that food from the prison had been sent to UNR for laboratory tests.

According to the prison director, the food was supplied to the prison by Kubumwe Cooperative based in Northern Province.

“The suppliers say their food was neither contaminated nor expired. But the laboratories will tell which is which,” she said.

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