3 dead, 194 downed by diarrhea

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 Oct) –  Three children have died while 194 other residents in a coastal village of Maasim town in Sarangani province were downed during the last four days by a severe diarrhea outbreak.

Dr. Jaileen Milar, Maasim Municipal Health Office (MHO), said Tuesday they placed the entire Barangay Tinoto under medical quarantine to immediately contain the outbreak, which was reportedly triggered by a contaminated water source in the area.

“We declared a diarrhea outbreak because the number of confirmed cases so far was more than the usual number of cases that we encounter in the area,” she said.

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Tinoto is one of 16 barangays in Maasim town. According to the National Statistical Coordination Board, its population as of August 1, 2007 was 4,932.

Milar said three children aged five years old and below died over the weekend after suffering from severe symptoms of diarrhea.

A report from the Barangay Council of Tinoto identified two of the fatalities as Nurhan Manggot and Abdulaziz Ali.

The health official said around 30 diarrhea patients were still confined at the Maasim District Hospital in Poblacion, Maasim as of Monday afternoon.

Rajik Kudarat, Tinoto barangay chair, said they immediately placed their area under a state of calamity to allow the barangay council to utilize its calamity funds to assist the victims.

The official said the victims started to suffer from various diarrhea-like symptoms such as severe loose bowel movement, vomiting and stomach ache as early as Friday last week.

Based on their initial evaluation, he said the outbreak could have been triggered by contaminated drinking water from one of the area’s water sources.

Kudarat said personnel from the Maasim MHO have submitted samples of the area’s water sources for laboratory tests to determine the cause of the outbreak.

He said the MHO also took blood and stool samples from some of the victims for separate laboratory tests.

Milar said they initially advised Tinoto residents to refrain from drinking water from the usual source pending the release of the results of the laboratory tests.

“They should also boil the water first before using them for household purposes,” she said.

Meanwhile, the office of Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao sent a truckload of bottled potable water to Tinoto on Monday from the lawmaker’s water refilling company.

Sarangani Governor Miguel Rene Dominguez dispatched personnel from the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office to attend to the needs of the victims.

The governor also sent Sarangani provincial health officer Dr. Antonio Yasana and provincial sanitary engineer Ruben Pelones to assist the treatment of the patients and investigate the cause of the outbreak. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)