GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 3 April) – Five residents of a remote village in Senator Ninoy Aquino town in Sultan Kudarat were confirmed to have died in the last several days after reportedly consuming contaminated horse meat.
Dr. Rex Lamprea, Sultan Kudarat provincial health officer, said Thursday the victims succumbed to severe food poisoning symptoms after eating the entrails and meat of several horses that reportedly died of still unknown causes.
Aside from the five fatalities, whose identities were still being verified, he said 16 other residents were brought to the provincial hospital in Isulan town after complaining of severe headache and showing poisoning symptoms.
“We’re still determining what really caused the death of the five victims but it was initially traced to the horse meat that they had consumed,” he said.
Lamprea said he has sent a team of surveillance and medical personnel to the area on Thursday to look into the matter and provide the necessary interventions for the affected residents.
Nestor Casador, Sultan Kudarat provincial agriculturist, said residents of Sitio Parreno, Barangay Tinalon in Senator Ninoy Aquino slaughtered five horses in the area last week.
He said the owner of the horses reportedly decided to have them slaughtered after they turned weak and died due to still unknown causes.
Citing a report from their veterinary unit, he said the horses were possibly poisoned or infected with an undetermined toxic disease.
“According to the report, the victims died after eating the entrails of the horses. In fact, one of them was the owner of the horses,” he told MindaNews in a telephone interview.
He said the victims who were brought to the provincial hospital for treatment fell ill after eating the horse meat, which were sold by the owner to his neighbors.
“We can’t really say right now what exactly caused the poisoning of the victims as there are no more horse meat available that we can subject to laboratory testing,” he said.
Henry Albano, Sultan Kudarat Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head, said they have sent some of their personnel to the area to provide assistance to the affected families.
He said Sultan Kudarat Gov. Suharto Mangudadatu instructed his office to locate all residents who have consumed the contaminated meat.
Albano said the Senator Ninoy Aquino municipal health office reported that around 30 families had bought and consumed the horse meat.