GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/04 June) — The diarrhea outbreak in an upland community in T’boli town that killed two children and downed 100 others in the last two weeks is now under control, health authorities said.
Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) chief, said no new cases of the disease have emerged from the affected areas in Barangay Basag in T’boli and local health workers are presently working on various interventions to prevent a similar outbreak in the area.
“We have so far contained (the outbreak) and all residents who were earlier affected have now fully recovered,” he said.
Aturdido said the cases of diarrhea in Barangay Basag were first reported on May 24 and continued until last week.
He said 70 residents, mostly young children, were initially confirmed to have been infected with cholera, which was traced from contaminated water resources in the village.
The T’boli Municipal Health Office later listed around 30 more affected residents during an outreach activity in the area, he said.
At the height of the outbreak, Aturdido said two young children succumbed to severe complications caused by cholera, an infection caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.
He said one of the victims was earlier brought to a local hospital but eventually died.
“It was too late when the victim was brought to the hospital. The dehydration caused by cholera was already severe at that time,” he said.
Aturdido said the IPHO’s epidemiology and surveillance unit initially found traces of cholera bacteria in samples taken from the village’s drinking water sources.
He said residents mainly draw water for drinking and other household needs from a reservoir that turned out to have been contaminated due to some leaks on the steel pipes used for its water lines.
Some residents also sourced their drinking water from contaminated wells, springs and other available water outlets, he said.
“The disposal of wastes in the area is quite a problem and most comfort rooms of local residents were not constructed well. These wastes could have contaminated some of the area’s water outlets,” he said.
As short-term solution to the problem, Aturdido said they conducted a clean-up and chlorination of the area’s water sources and educated residents regarding proper waste disposal, sanitation and other healthy habits.
He said they recommended to the municipal government of T’boli the immediate repair of the damaged water lines in the area and provision of some assistance to local residents for the construction of more comfort rooms.
The official added that personnel from the Department of Health’s National Epidemiology Center are currently in the area to conduct further studies and validate the cause of the outbreak. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)