DoH declares Cholera outbreak in Palawan town
MANILA, Philippines—Health officials have declared a cholera outbreak in Bataraza town in Palawan following the death of nearly 20 people, mostly children belonging to a tribe, due to diarrhea and vomiting.
The outbreak actually began weeks ago but was officially declared late Tuesday after the Department of Health recorded an “unusually high” number of diarrhea cases in 17 out of the 22 barangays (villages) of Bataraza that was traced to contaminated water, said Dr. Manuel Mapue of the DoH National Epidemiology Center-Applied Public Health Division.
“We declared a cholera outbreak in the entire town since only five of the 22 barangays do not have cases of diarrhea,” said Mapue, who was sent to Palawan to assess the situation in the area.
The health agency has already monitored at least 430 diarrhea cases in the town, killing at least 19 people from March 1 to April 12. Tests showed that majority of the patients were positive for vibrio cholerae, a bacterium which causes cholera in humans, reported Mapue.
Many members of the Palaw-an tribal community showed symptoms of cholera, which included severe stomach pains and heavy vomiting.
The contamination of the community’s water source may have been brought about by heavy rains in the mountain villages, according to the health agency.
Aside from the contamination of water sources in these villages, the poor sanitation practices of the affected tribal community may have contributed to the worsening health condition of its members.
“We are concerned about the practices and behaviors of [the community] because they appear not that concerned about sanitation,” said Mapue, noting that some of them eat on the floor.
To address the epidemic, the health agency has delivered water containers, aqua tabs and other medicines to the affected areas, he added.
“We have also talked to a local mining company and the local government and asked them to send these people a daily supply of potable water,” said the health official.
He added that declaring a state of calamity was already being seriously considered by the local government unit to release the necessary funds to arrest the cholera outbreak.
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