No less than 27 female students residing in the 1,500-bed “Fatma Sayel” university residence in the town of Mascara in the west of the country were victims of collective food poisoning on the evening of Monday 11 April. The victims, aged between 19 and 25, were urgently admitted to hospital at the public hospital establishment of Mascara “Yessâad Khaled” to receive medical care. According to a press release from the local health and population department (DSP) which was made public on Monday evening, the students concerned were suffering from nausea, fever, vomiting and stomach aches. The majority of them are in stable condition, while two others would need hospitalization. According to hospital sources, the victims were kept under medical supervision.
An epidemiological investigation to determine the causes
It should be noted that the wali of Mascara, Abdelkhalek Seyouda, went to the bedside of the victims to inquire about the state of their health and to ensure that they were properly cared for. According to the communication unit of the wilaya’s services, Mr. Seyouda instructed the heads of the health sector and university works of the wilaya to take care of the victims.
On the other hand, the prevention services of the health department have opened an epidemiological investigation at the level of the university residence in question to determine the exact causes of this poisoning.
The problem of food poisoning seems to be a recurrent health problem in the region with regard to the significant number of poisonings of this kind recorded in the past. In 2017, no less than 268 cases of food poisoning were recorded in several municipalities within the same wilaya after consuming pastries and other spoiled foods.
A little further on, in 2013, some 65 people from the town of Mohammadia, 43 km from Mascara, were also poisoned during the month of Ramadan.
Poor sanitation behind scourge
Obviously, this health problem, mainly due to poor hygienic conditions, is not limited to this single city in the country since every year, cases of food poisoning, some of which are fatal, are deplored almost everywhere. The most serious of them are recorded precisely in university residences and family celebrations because of expired or poorly preserved food stocks. In Blida, 195 cases of poisoning were recorded in July 2021 following the consumption of whey.
In the first half of 2021 alone, the national assessment of collective food poisoning (TIAC) reports 259 cases, an increase of 109%, while the number of people poisoned (individually) was around 3,160 cases.
These figures bear witness to the extent of this problem, which is essentially due to non-compliance with hygiene rules.