DOH chief: Don’t panic over ‘flesh-eating disease’
MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Enrique Ona urged the public not to panic over a supposed “flesh-eating” skin disease in Pangasinan.
“There is no reported case of ‘flesh-eating’ skin disease in the country yet. Absolutely no reason for the public to panic,” the health secretary said in a statement posted in their Facebook account on Tuesday.
Ona made the statement after ABS-CBN reported in their late-night program “Bandila” that a “mysterious flesh-eating disease” is slowly spreading in Pangasinan.
The reporter, clad in protective gear and face mask, interviewed two case studies in Villasis and Santa Barbara who were said to be “decaying” due to a “mysterious” disease. But the provincial health officer dispelled the report, saying the two victims had psoriasis and leprosy.
Ona further explained that the patient in Santa Barbara is a 21-year-old female who is on multi-drug therapy for leprosy. The patient developed an adverse reaction to the drugs.
Meanwhile, the patient in Villasis was said to have a severe case of psoriasis, a chronic skin disease of red patches and white scales, Ona added.
“There are a lot of diseases that may manifest through changes in the skin. It is good to consult our doctors or go to the nearest barangay health unit when we need medical advice and treatment. Let us avail of the free healthcare service in our health facilities,” Ona said.
The two cases were not that of the rare necrotizing fasciitis, a serious bacterial infection that spreads rapidly and destroys the body’s soft tissue, Pangasinan provincial health officer Dr. Anna Guzman said.
The ABS-CBN report was made amid an internet buzz that a prophecy by self-titled prophet Vincent Selvakumar of the Voice of Jesus Ministries in April 2013 said a flesh-eating disease would spread from the Ilocos province to the world.
Just hours after the Bandila report came out Monday night, the hashtag #PrayForPangasinan trended on Twitter, with netizens resorting to faith amid fears of an apocalyptic doom.
The prophet was also said to have predicted a flood that would ravage Samar and Leyte, a reference supernatural netizens said was fulfilled when Super Typhoon “Yolanda” ravaged the Central Philippines in November 2013.
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