By Maria Gregoriou
FOUR out of 22 children suffering from food poisoning were remained hospitalised yesterday in Kyperounda in the Limassol district for precautionary reasons after being admitted on Thursday.
All of the children showed signs of illness at around 4pm on Thursday at a SEK union camp in Kannavia in the Nicosia district.
Out of the 140 children at the camp of various ages, 22 showed signs of food poisoning on Thursday. Nine were taken to the Kyperounda hospital, ten to the Limassol general hospital and three to the Nicosia general hospital.
According to a statement released by SEK yesterday the children who had shown symptoms were treated and there was no reason for concern.
Yesterday the camp was visited by the Head of Health Services Christos Christou who inspected the fridges, freezers and the kitchen area where the food is prepared.
“We were satisfied with the cleanliness of the camp but we did find that some procedures for using essential items were lacking.
The camp staff were told immediately how to deal properly with these procedures,” Christou said.
Samples of potable water, food in the fridges and freezers and also water from the camp’s swimming pool have been collected for testing.
“Because we have no strong evidence to point to the cause of the problem as coming from the drinkable water, food, or any other environmental factors, we also had to take samples from the swimming pool water,” said Christou.
Measures to prevent any of the other children from getting sick had already been taken, he said.
All essential items that had been used at the camp until now will not be consumed and the water will not be drunk until the test results have been completed.
High temperatures of the season may also be a factor, the health official said.
“It is a fact all over Europe that during periods of high temperatures, food poisoning is more common,” Christou added.
The children at the camp were divided into those who showed symptoms of food poisoning and those who did not and were all given the same questionnaire to pin-point similarities in their actions and find a lead as to where the problem sprang from.
As all of the children ate meatballs, rice and salad for lunch on Thursday, they have been ruled out according to Christou.
According to the director of the camp, Nicos Pisfithiou, all of the children ate lunch but he could not be sure as to what they ate from the canteen.
“The food in the canteen is also checked, just like the food in the kitchen, but we cannot be sure what food was consumed from there,” Pisfithiou said.
He also commented on the tests being done on the samples by saying “once we know what the reasons are, then we can act accordingly and make sure no other children get sick.”
A paediatrician also visited the camp yesterday to answer any questions that the children may have had and to also offer psychological support.
Doctors from various hospitals have also been at the camp sine the incident occurred.
The camp actives are still running and the daily programme has not been changed, according to Pisfithiou.