Diarrhea outbreak spreads in Bilibid; 2 dead
The diarrhea outbreak reported last weekend at New Bilibid Prison (NBP) had spread to more than 1,200 inmates, two of whom died on Tuesday night, according to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
Dr. Ma. Lourdes Razon, officer in charge of NBP Hospital where 81 inmates remain confined, identified the fatalities as Virgilio Sabado, 62, and Sabas Lastimoso, 67. Sabado died of dehydration while Lastimoso passed away after falling into a diabetic coma. Both were admitted to the hospital on May 27.
A total of 1,212 out of the 16,000 inmates at the NBP have come down with diarrhea which was blamed on the supposedly contaminated food served by Mang Kiko Catering Services Inc., the current food caterer.
On the other hand, Mang Kiko, which has been the NBP’s food supplier since 2008, pointed to the water supply at the national penitentiary as the cause. It pointed to its track record, saying it has been feeding the inmates for years without any incident of food poisoning.
Aguirre said Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officials were conducting an investigation after the food supplier denied that the outbreak was caused by the paksiw na bangus (milkfish stewed in vinegar) served for dinner on May 25.
The following day, some of the inmates started experiencing diarrhea symptoms such as loose bowel movement, abdominal pain and fever.
BuCor director Benjamin delos Santos said that it would be unfair to accuse Mang Kiko since the investigation into the incident was still ongoing.
He admitted that it was possible that the water supply at the national penitentiary was to blame, adding that the BuCor had long been planning to have the water pipes at the NBP replaced.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), 101 of those who came down with diarrhea reported that they had drunk water from a deep well, a pump or tank beforehand. Seventy-four others said they ate the paksiw na bangus served by Mang Kiko.
Delos Santos said they were awaiting the DOH’s official report on its findings regarding the incident. The Muntinlupa health office is also conducting its own investigation.
As a precaution, milkfish has been removed from the diet of the inmates since Friday, Delos Santos added.
According to him, the NBP has already notified the relatives of the affected inmates about their condition. “We assure the public that the outbreak is under control and [the inmates are] well-attended [to] at the NBP hospital,” Delos Santos said.
At the same time, he asked media not to make “undue speculations pending official results of [the] investigation.”
Aguirre said the DOH had provided 1,008 bags of intravenous fluid and 50,000 water purifying tablets to the NBP for the affected inmates.
“We wish to reassure the public, particularly the families of the inmates who are down with diarrhea, that we are addressing the problem,” Aguirre said in a statement.
“The health and welfare of our inmates under the present circumstances are paramount,” he added. —WITH A REPORT FROM DEXTER CABALZA
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