BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/03 July) – Thirty-six schoolchildren were rushed to the Agusan del Norte Provincial Hospital here for suspected food poisoning Friday.
The children, all pupils of Doongan Elementary School, were reported to have eaten expired candies.
“We received a total of 36 students. About five of them who exhibited the most severe symptoms were admitted to the hospital while others are still under observation. Right now our doctor and nurses are taking care of the children,” said Domingo Enciso Jr. Nurse II at the Provincial Health Office.
Eunice Joy Gidacan, grade 4 teacher-in-charge explained that she did not notice the children eating the chocolate candies because it was break time.
“It happened during snack break, this was about 9:20 to 9:40. When I sat down back I saw candies on my table. One of my students informed me that she has given me candies sent to them by her brother from Saudi,” Gidacan said.
“I then asked for the packaging of the candy, and saw that it was already expired, dated December 12, 2014. I immediately asked my students to go out and remove the candies from their mouth but several of them have already eaten the candy,” she said.
She noted that after two hours several of the children were already complaining of stomach ache, headache and some even vomited.
“I could not believe what was initially happening. About more than 20 of them were crying really hard due to the abdominal pain. Some who did not have the symptoms started to panic and cried in fear they might also be in danger,” Gidacan said.
“I immediately called for help informing the division school nurse, our principal and the barangay. Few minutes later an ambulance from the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office arrived and brought the children to the hospital,” the teacher explained.
Dr. Maria Christine Mordeno, medical officer III, said it was good that the children were immediately brought to the hospital.
“We segregated the children with symptoms from those who have none. Those without symptoms were given antacids and antispasmodic. Those with symptoms, about six of them, were admitted and immediately given IVs,” Mordeno said.
“We will monitor those admitted for 24 hours to see if the symptoms would get worse or get better,” she added.
Jocelyn Bequin, the foster mother of the child who brought the candy said they received the chocolates from her son who is working in Saudi Arabia last October 2014.
“We just placed the entire package in the refrigerator. I forgot about the chocolate since the doctor prohibited me from eating them. The other evening we cleaned our refrigerator and found the chocolate candies.
“My elder sister told my adopted daughter not to eat them since they were already expired and asked to throw them away. We did not expect she would bring them to school and offer the candies to her classmates,” Bequin said.
The emergency response units of the city were on the field as the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Council was conducting an emergency disaster drill as part of the Disaster Consciousness Month celebration. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)