THREE people on holiday in Henties Bay were admitted to a hospital in Swakopmund in a critical condition after they ingested poisoned food during a family gathering on New Year’s Day.
Besides the three people who are in critical condition 27 other members of the family group suffered various degrees of poisoning. Of those eight more had to be transported by ambulance to the hospital for emergency medical treatment.
Brian Low who stands at the head of LifeLink Emergency Rescue Services said his ambulances were called to a doctor’s practice in the holiday town to assist with the transportation to the hospital of the more serious cases.
“LifeLink had two ambulances available, but activated other ambulance services in view of the number of patients. Code Red and E-Med then dispatched ambulances from Swakopmund to assist with the evacuation of the victims.”
The owner of Code Red Medical Services who assisted with the evacuation of the patients on, Aubrey Oosthuizen, said that the patients showed signs of poisoning about 20 minutes after ingesting bread that was specially baked for the family gathering.
“The bread had very high seed content and is believed that the organophosphate poisoning suffered by all the victims originated from the different kinds of seeds used during the baking process,” Oosthuizen said.
He pointed out that the person who baked the bread was one of the patients that were admitted to hospital in a critical condition.
A family member of the woman, who baked the special seed loaf, said they suspect that a tin of olive oil that was gift from Spain might be origin of the poison.
“She baked the exact same seed loaf for Christmas Day and the only ingredient that changed from that loaf to the bread for the New Year’s day gathering was the olive oil from Spain,” the family member said.
Organophosphate is a key ingredient in most insecticides used during the cultivation of a great variety of crops around the world.
Warrant Officer Ileni Shapumba of the Namibian Police’s Community Affairs Division in the Erongo Region said that they were made aware of the incident.
“We were informed that it was a case of food poisoning and that all the victims received medical treatment.”
Warrant Officer Shapumba added that because no foul play is suspected at this stage and because no case has been registered with the Namibian Police that no investigation has been launched into the matter yet.