TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – The Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU) suspended classes and shut down its campus Thursday after one of its students died and six others fell ill due to meningococcemia.
Classes at EVSU were suspended at around 11 a.m. on orders of its president, Dominador Aguirre Jr., “to give way to medical personnel to do the necessary procedures and treatment.”
Dr. Gloria Fabregas of the Tacloban City health office said the victim died at around 8 p.m. on August 5 at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC), based in this city, four days after the victim complained of high fever and body malaise.
The victim, whose name and address were not disclosed by Fabregas, was buried on Aug. 6.
Six of the student’s classmates were said to have shown similar symptoms and were taken to EVRMC for treatment.
“But they are now okay. What we are doing now is doing some contact tracing,” Fabregas said in a phone interview.
Contact tracing is the identification of persons who have had contact with an infected person or contaminated environment.
Fabregas said authorities would conduct contact tracing among the classmates of the victim as part of precautionary measures.
Members of the family of the victim, who was a third year student, have been given medicines, she added.
“Everything’s well now. There is nothing to worry about,” she said.
“Meningococcemia is a year-round disease here in the region. In fact, last year, we had 12 cases, with one coming from Tacloban,” Fabregas said.
Meningococcemia is an acute and potentially life-threatening infection of the blood stream caused by bacteria called Neisseria mengingitidis that frequently live in a person’s upper respiratory tract without causing visible signs of illness.
It can spread from person to person through respiratory droplets (sneeze or cough). Symptoms may include fever, rashes, headache, anxiety, irritability, muscle pain and nausea.
Professor Socrates Ballais, who teaches economics at EVSU, said that the suspension of classes at EVSU did not cause panic among its more than 10,000 students.
“But right now, the school is deserted, with only few of its security guards around,” Ballais said. He could not say, however, when classes would resume.
Aguirre could not be reached for clarification on how long classes would be suspended, but a security guard, who asked not to be named, said security personnel were instructed not to allow students to enter the Tacloban campus until Sunday.
EVSU, one of the biggest and oldest educational institutions in Eastern Visayas offering secondary and college education, started operations in 1907. Its satellite campuses are located in Ormoc City and in the towns of Burauen, Tanauan, Dulag and Carigara, all in Leyte.
Prior to its conversion into a state university in 2004, the school was known as the Leyte Institute of Technology. It offers several courses like education, hotel and restaurant management, architecture, business and entrepreneurship and engineering.
EVSU has more than 10,000 students, with over 1,000 of them enrolled in the secondary level.