Cholera, lack of water a deadly mix
KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines – It is cholera.
Health officials of North Cotabato province confirmed that the mainly water-borne disease was the cause of death of eight people and the illness of hundreds of others in Alamada town, home to one of the province’s tourist destinations, Asik-Asik waterfalls.
Dr. Eva Rabaya, provincial health chief, said laboratory tests showed that residents of at least four villages in Alamada had contracted cholera, though health officials have yet to determine where it came from or how it spread.
Dr. Mary Joyce Posada, chief of the Alamada community hospital, said that as of Friday afternoon, residents are still arriving in the hospital to have themselves checked for symptoms of cholera.
Vice Mayor Samuel Alim said most residents were surprised it happened in their community since they had been drinking water from springs for years.
The bacteria that carry cholera spread through contaminated food or water.
Following the outbreak, authorities immediately closed the Asik-Asik waterfalls to the public.
Rabaya said residents of Alamada, even in villages not hit by the outbreak, were told to avoid drinking water from springs.
Posada said villagers were told to boil water before drinking. Aside from 438 people confirmed to have cholera, about 46 others tested positive for amoebiasis.
Earlier, the North Cotabato provincial government has resorted to water rationing to stop the spread of the disease.
Rabaya said containers filled with clean and safe water were distributed to residents in the villages.
Rabaya said water sources in the 13 areas were ordered closed since most were prone to bacteria contamination.
Villagers usually fetch drinking water from wells and springs.
Rabaya said the water sources would remain closed while waiting for results of tests done on water samples sent to Davao City.
Rabaya said the provincial government had tapped the services of drivers of habal-habal, motorcycles turned into public utility vehicles, to transport clean water to the villagers.
Rabaya said the provincial government would also pay the hospital bills of all the patients.
The municipal council of Alamada has declared a state of calamity to allow the use of calamity funds for the patients. Reports from Edwin O. Fernandez and Williamor Magbanua, Inquirer Mindanao
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