Three-year-old Kristal Tan has been in the hospital with diarrhea since Sunday. She can now play with her toys and easily move about her bed in the district hospital in Danao City, where’s she’s waiting to be discharged.
Kristal is among 92 patients, mostly children, hospitalized for diarrhea since last week in Carmen town, north Cebu, where rural water systems are fed by the Luyang River, springs and deep wells.
Health authorities said they found E. coli bacteria in the municipal water system which is run by a cooperative.
Stool tests of patients showed they suffered amoebiasis, a water-borne ailment, said Dr. Elmer Batao, Carmen health officer after inspection done by the Department of Health (DOH) 7 in Central Visayas.
A missing chlorinator was also identified as a factor.
Mayor Gerardo Villamor said they only found out last week that the contractor was not able to install one of two chlorinators for barangay Luyang, which recorded the most number of diarrhea cases.
“Barangay Luyang’s water supply does not come from the reservoir, it is taken directly from the spring box. We purchased two chlorinators a year ago but the contractor missed putting it along the pipes of Luyang,” said the mayor.
Villamor said he has yet to confront the contractor about this omission.
One chlorinator was installed only two days ago.
The mayor said the water source of the 14 affected barangays in Carmen is varied.
Only one of them, barangay Luyang, is under the Carmen Water System. The other barangays maintain their own water systems or use deep wells.
Villamor said the town is still fighting in court for the authority to fully operate the Carmen Water System, which is run by a cooperative.
The mayor said he hopes to gain the authority to continue with their work to provide clean and reliable water supply in the entire town.
Most of the diarrhea victims are children like 3-year-old Kristal.
“We were so worried. She was discharging thrice in less than two hours, and she got so weak, so we immediately brought her to the hospital,” said Belen Quiamco, Kristal’s grandmother.
Quiamco said the family drinks bottled water but for cooking, they use water from the faucet.
Some of the patients are as young as two months old, said head nurse Evelyn Monsanto.
As of Friday, there were seven diarrhea patients from Carmen being treated in the wards. Other patients went to the Out Patients Department.
Water disinfectants were distributed to 14 affected barangays and household chlorination is being done, said sanitary inspector Manny Rivera.
The rainy weather was one factor linked to the cases but Rivera said that residents should also practice cleanliness in their own homes.