2 dead, 20 ill in red tide poisoning in Samar bay

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03:55 PM July 4th, 2013

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July 4th, 2013 03:55 PM

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—Two persons died while 20 others fell ill after eating “tahong” (green mussel) harvested from Cambatutay Bay in Samar province that were found to be positive of the red tide toxin.

Junbert Malabusa, 3, resident of Barangay Gallego, Taranganan town, died on July 1 while confined at the municipal hospital. His grandfather, Elpidio, 50, died the following day in the same hospital, said Samar provincial agriculturist Anita Taran.

She said the boy’s parents–Giovanni, 34, and Mary Grace, 35–and 16 other residents from Barangay Gallego and two from the neighboring barangay of Bahay, were hospitalized after eating tahong gathered from Cambatutay Bay.

Some of the victims were brought to the Taranganan municipal hospital while others were confined at the Samar Provincial Hospital in Catbalogan City. They are now out of danger, said Taran.

The victims suffered dizziness, a tingling sensation in their fingers, lips and tongue after eating the mussels.

Cambatutay Bay is the major body of water of Tarangnan, 36 kilometers away from the provincial capital of Catbalogan City.

Taran said tests made by the provincial and municipal agriculture offices on July 2 found that Cambatutay Bay was positive of red tide with toxicity level reaching 2,158 cells per liter in the Gallego area and 1,815 cells per liter in the Bahay area.

The tolerable level is 1 to 10 cells per liter.

Taran said that while a ban on the gathering and eating mussels, shellfish and fish from the Cambatutay Bay has yet to be imposed by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, people have been advised to thoroughly clean mussel shells before cooking these. It is better to refrain from eating mussels from the bay, however, said Taran.

Taran said that it was the first time that red tide toxins were reported in the Cambatutay Bay.

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