LA PAZ – The Bolivian Attorney General’s Office charged two women with poisoning more than 500 schoolchildren who became ill after eating breakfast at a school in the northern city of Cobija, bordering on Brazil, the Public Ministry reported Thursday.
The women, identified by their initials – R.E.B.B. and M.C.R. – were tasked with preparing the breakfast distributed to the children and were charged with committing alleged “crimes against the public health,” said the provincial prosecutor of the Pando region, Olvis Egües, according to a statement issued by the AG’s Office.
The incident occurred on May 21, when 570 gradeschool students fell ill after eating chicken sandwiches with catsup and mayonnaise as part of their breakfast at the Antonio Vaca Diez school in Cobija.
According to Egües, testing done by the National Institute of Health Laboratories, or Inlasa, found “bacteria in the bread and in the chicken that was used” to prepare the sandwiches.
In addition, prosecutors investigating the case determined that the site where the sandwiches were prepared did not meet minimum required health standards.
“It is presumed that, due to the lack of hygiene and for not having taken health precautions, the 570 students of this educational establishment became poisoned,” Egües said.
He added that the AG’s Office requested that the women be held under preventive detention while the investigation continues.
Roberto Galindo Hospital in Cobija was brought to a standstill when the hundreds of children – many of whom had fainted at the school – began to be brought in, and medical personnel had to treat them in the hallways, as reported by local television stations.