07.sep.06 The China Post Associated Press

Beijing — Medical experts say a food poisoning outbreak that left at least 300 Chinese schoolchildren hospitalized was caused by shigella bacteria, a news report said Wednesday. Students and teachers fell ill after eating lunch Friday at the Chongzhou City Experimental Primary School in the southwestern province of Sichuan. Investigators have found shigella bacteria in the food, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The bacteria are spread through undercooked or contaminated food and poor hygiene, and cause diarrhea, fever, vomiting and stomach cramps.

Earlier reports said at least 300 children were hospitalized. Xinhua said Wednesday that 57 were confirmed to be suffering from food poisoning and 516 were under observation, though it didn’t say how many of those were in hospitals. It said several teachers had recovered and were discharged. It isn’t clear whether the food was contaminated by its supplier or during preparation at the school, Xinhua said, citing Fu Xiaolu, director of the Disease Prevention and Control Center in the provincial capital of Chengdu. Some other mass poisoning cases at Chinese schools have been blamed on cooks who mistook toxic chemicals for salt or other ingredients or on intentional attacks.