Diarrhea outbreak attributed to long dry spell
TACLOBAN CITY—Health authorities have blamed the prolonged dry spell for the diarrhea outbreak in Eastern Visayas, which killed 44 people and downed 3,496 others in less than two months.
“The outbreak of diarrhea cases … is now under control with our intervention measures,” said Dr. Minerva Molon, regional director of the Department of Health.
The DOH has distributed oral rehydration solution (oresol), aqua tabs, chlorine and intravenous fluids to the affected areas.
Molon said the diarrhea cases in Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar provinces were first noted in April, when the dry spell started to hit the region due to the El Niño phenomenon.
When the residents’ main sources of water, such as open wells, dried out, they started to look for other sources, but unfortunately, some were rivers that were not fit for drinking, she said.
Of the 44 deaths reported from April to June 12, Samar posted the highest number with 32, followed by Northern Samar, 8, Eastern Samar, 3, and Leyte, 1. Samar also had the biggest number of cases at 1,737, followed by Northern Samar, 882, Eastern Samar, 523, and Leyte, 354.
The majority of the patients were children—the youngest at 4 months old and the oldest at 74. Most did not receive hospital treatment.
With the onset of the La Niña phenomenon, Molon saw a fresh surge of diarrhea cases because sources of water could be contaminated anew from flash floods and landslides.
She called on local government units to help the DOH in its campaign to address the problem of tainted water sources. Most of the diarrhea cases occurred in hinterland villages that rely on open wells for drinking water, she said. Joey A. Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas
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