Schisto endemic in 53 Bukidnon barangays, says DOH

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/30 May) – Schistosomiasis is endemic in 53 of Bukidnon’s 464 barangays with five of these villages having an infection rate of at least 10 percent, according to a report released by the Department of Health Bukidnon Schistosomiasis Control Office.

This number is 15.2-percent more than the 46 barangays recorded in 2006, when Bukidnon had the lowest infection rate, 2.63 percent, in a span of 10 years.

The province had an infection rate of 3.5 percent in 2010, down from 15.81 percent in 1981, a record high in the province.

The five barangays with the highest infection rates are San Isidro and Dagatkidavao in Valencia City, San Jose in San Fernando, and San Martin and Can-ayan in Malaybalay City.

About 13 barangays were listed in the “moderately endemic” category or those with 5- to 9.99-percent infection rates.

A barangay may be included in the “endemic areas” after the DOH verifies the presence of infected snails or confirms a case of schistosomiasis, according to Dr. Vincent Raguro, who heads DOH’s schistosomiasis control office based in Malaybalay City.

Bangcud, home of the controversial schistosomiasis-infected spring resort in Malaybalay City, is among the 35 barangays considered as “low endemic” with an infection rate of below 5 percent.

Only two of the resort’s 11 springs were found to be infected as of March 2011. But Raguro stressed that the resort as a whole has not been cleared of schistosomiasis and expressed worry that it has become a tourist attraction.

“Even if the visitors just wade in the water, they stand the risk of infection,” he warned.

Raguro said the higher number of barangays where the disease is endemic could be a sign that they wanted to get rid of it. He added that they conduct, upon request of the barangays, a yearly mass treatment.

He said all of the 53 barangays have requested mass treatment even if he cited difficulty in an earlier interview about some sort of resistance in Bangcud.

But he said the DOH’s target of cutting down the infection rate in Bukidnon to one percent is “difficult to achieve.”

Raguro said Schistosoma japonicum parasite-carrying snails dwell in “clear, clean, cool” waters like in Matin-ao springs.

Her said humans and animals can get the parasite by simply washing their hands and feet and bathing in streams or passing through them.

But he said schistosomiasis is a curable tropical disease. He added it does not kill, but its complications do.

In 2010, Raguro’s team examined 13,877 stool samples and found 495 to be positive of schistosomiasis. About 330 or 67 percent of the positive cases were males.

Seventeen of the barangays where the disease is endemic belong to Valencia and 16 are in Malaybalay.

In 2010, the barangays with the most number of cases were San Jose in San Fernando (54), Mapolo in Malaybalay (41), and Kahaponan in Valencia (37).

The DOH did not disclose Bukidnon’s ranking in Mindanao as of Wednesday last week. But Raguro said Mindanao owns 80 percent of schistosomiasis cases in the Philippines, the Visayas 5 percent Luzon 15.

He attributed the big number of cases to the amount of rainfall in Mindanao and the fact that it is the second biggest island in the country. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)