Diarrhea outbreak kills 2, downs 250 in Lake Sebu

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/30 June) — The provincial government of South Cotabato sent a medical team on Monday to a remote village in Lake Sebu town due to a reported outbreak of diarrhea that already left two children dead and downed around 250 other residents.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said Monday they dispatched a team of doctors, nurses and personnel from the Integrated Provincial Health Office’s (IPHO) epidemiology and surveillance unit to Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu to look into the reported outbreak and address the immediate needs of the affected residents.

She said they also sent a dump truck owned by the local government to deliver medical and food supplies to the area.

Citing an initial report received by the IPHO, the governor said the outbreak affected six of the remotest sitios of Barangay Ned, which is situated near the tri-boundaries of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces.

She said these comprise Sitios Kibang, Lubo, Tinugas, Proper, Blit and Tasufaw of Barangay Ned.

“Some of the affected sitios were very remote and already near the boundary of T’boli and Lake Sebu so it was quite difficult for our personnel to penetrate the area,” she said at the flag-raising ceremony of the provincial government on Monday morning.

Fuentes said the village reported that two children in the area died late last week after suffering from symptoms of suspected diarrhea.

Around 250 residents have also fallen ill and currently receiving treatment from barangay health workers, she said.

“We can’t really conclude yet if it was really caused by diarrhea or cholera. There were reports that the two fatalities were either afflicted with dengue or typhoid fever,” she said.

Fuentes said she directed the IPHO to determine the exact disease that affected the local residents and its real cause.

But for his part, Lake Sebu Mayor Antonio Fungan said in a radio interview that the reported symptoms suffered by the affected residents were that of diarrhea.

The mayor said these include severe abdominal pain and cramps, loose bowel movement and fever other related symptoms.

Based an assessment conducted by local health personnel, he said the outbreak could have been caused by contaminated drinking water.

Fungan the area lacks potable water systems, forcing residents to depend on spring water resources and deep wells for their needs. (MindaNews)