Food poisoning in Lake Sebu downs 50

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/22 July) – Fifty residents of a remote village in Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato have fallen ill in a suspected case of food poisoning from carabao meat that was believed contaminated by a still undetermined substance.

Dads Bacalso, liaison officer of South Cotabato (2nd District) Rep. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, said Friday they received reports from officials of Sitio Tinugas in Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu that residents of almost an entire community in the area were being treated for severe symptoms of food poisoning and related illnesses.

She said 12 of the victims, who were mostly children, were brought to the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in Koronadal City late Thursday for treatment.

“There were no immediate casualties but around 40 residents were still being treated at a health center there for the same symptoms, according to reports,” Bacalso said.

Citing accounts by some of the victims, she said they started to fall ill after consuming the cooked meat of a carabao that was slaughtered by a local resident last Sunday.

Bacalso said the owner of the carabao reportedly decided to slaughter the farm animal after it suddenly became weak due to unknown reasons.

“Some of those who helped slaughter the carabao confirmed that the animal had eaten a mosquito net,” she said.

Bacalso said most of the victims experienced various symptoms of food poisoning late last Sunday but the municipal government of Lake Sebu and the 2nd Congressional District Office of South Cotabato only received a report about the problem on Thursday afternoon.

She said Lake Sebu Mayor Antonio Fungan immediately dispatched Thursday evening the local government’s medical team and a dump truck loaded with some medical supplies to Barangay Ned, which is considered the remotest village of the province.

The usual travel time to Barangay Ned, which is located near the tri-boundaries of South Cotabato, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat provinces, takes four to five hours, depending on the weather and road condition.

Bacalso said Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, chief of the South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office, is sending a team of medical personnel to the area Friday morning to help treat the remaining victims.

She said personnel at the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital were also preparing for the possible arrival of more food poisoning victims from the area.

She added that Fuentes instructed them to provide the necessary assistance to the victims, especially for their mobility and hospitalization. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)