GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/30 July) – Health authorities in South Cotabato have launched an investigation into an alleged food poisoning case that downed at least 53 teachers attending a conference in nearby Koronadal City over the weekend.
Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., South Cotabato health officer, said Monday the victims were separately rushed to the Doctor’s Clinic and Hospital in Koronadal City on Saturday afternoon after suffering from severe stomach ache, loose bowel movement and other food poisoning symptoms.
The teachers were among the estimated 200 participants of the Missions Partnership Conference that was held Saturday at the Notre Dame of Marbel University (NDMU), he said.
“The suspected cause was the food served at the conference that was delivered by a caterer from Surallah town,” he said.
Of the 53 victims, Aturdido said 18 were admitted at the hospital due to signs of severe gastroenteritis and dehydration.
As of Monday morning, two of the victims remained confined and still undergoing treatment at the same hospital.
The health official said he has dispatched personnel from the province’s sanitary inspection unit to Surallah town to check on the operations of the caterer.
He said they also sent samples of the rectal swab taken from the victims to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center in Cotabato City for laboratory testing.
Aturdido said the tests were aimed at determining the exact cause of the poisoning, specifically if it was triggered by chemicals or some microorganism.
“So far, the results of the victims’ stool examination have turned out negative of blood and amoebiasis but we’re still determining whether cholera was involved,” he said. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)