In a massive drive to fight E.Coli infection in the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) conducted a survey and found 92% of the ice cubes samples from hotels, road side vendors, juice centres infected by the bacteria.

E.Coli bacteria is known to cause food poisoning symptoms such as abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. The drive was conducted by the health department of the corporation in all the 24 wards.

Dr Mini Khetrapal, in-charge of the epidemiology department of BMC, said: “Every year in June we see a spike in water ailment cases. This year, we decided to have a massive drive to control the cases. We started the drive with collecting water samples from across the city. Only 27% of them had E.Coli presence. We then decided to check on ice samples as many people tend to drink juices, ice creams etc. during this period.”

As per the BMC report, ice cube samples from nine wards in the city had 100% positivity for E.Coli. Khetrapal added that the apart from road side vendors, the ice samples collected from some Grade I hotels and restaurants too tested positive of the bacteria.

“We have destroyed a huge quantity of ice samples. We are also sending a letter to the Food and Drugs Administration to take appropriate steps. Meanwhile, people are requested to be cautious and avoid ice in their drinks, juices etc.,” said Khetrapal. She also said that Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR) will also be instructed to ensure that the ice used in their hotels are E.Coli free.

The ice samples were collected from the ice vendors, hotels and bar, fruit juice centre, food stalls and fast food centres.

Dr KR Debhri, general physician from Thakurdwar, said, “E. coli is a common infectious pathogen. It can be found in contaminated food or water that is generally available in food stalls. The consumption of contaminated food or water could lead to food poisoning.”

He said that in order to keep away from such diseases, one must stay away from street food, and should consume mineral or boiled water. “The water should be boiled for about 10 to 15 minutes. Another precaution that people can take is cleaning the fruits and vegetables thoroughly,” said Debhri.

A survey was being conducted among 552 shops, 2,995 roadside stalls, where the BMC destroyed one thousand 129kg of sweets, four thousand 565kg food items, four thousand 898 litres of drinking items and three thousand 900 kg fruits and vegetables which contained contagious ice and water mixed with eatables and drinking items.

Dr Om Shrivastav, infectious disease expert, said: “This bacteria is generally found in food and water. Due to the oppressive heat observed this summer, this bacteria has become fairly common. I observe 2 to 5 patients daily with food poisoning; however, it may not always be E.coli.”

He said that to prevent E.Coli infection, one must sterilise and properly wash vegetables and fruits. If one starts getting the symptoms, they must rest, hydrate themselves and consult a doctor,” said Shrivastav.