40 quake victims complain of food poisoning

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 6 Nov) – Doctors treated some 40 earthquake victims when they complained of abdominal pains and vomiting after eating food donated by Good Samaritans Monday night.

Lanao del Sur provincial health personnel attend to earthquake victims in Makilala, North Cotabato. Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong

Dr. Alijandrito Descaller, head of Lanao del Sur Integrated Provincial Health Office, said the victims were from the evacuation camps in the municipality of Makilala, North Cotabato, epicenter of the magnitude 6.5 earthquake on Oct. 31.

He said it was timely that they have set up tents at the Makilala park for their medical mission for the quake victims.

“Suddenly our tents were filled with patients complaining of food poisoning. Many were vomiting or sick with abdominal pain,” Descaller said.

When they asked the victims what could have caused their stomach troubles, Descaller said all of them suspected it was “pastil”—a meal of rice, eggs and beef meat wrapped in banana leaves—given to them by a passing Good Samaritan.

Descaller said the patients told him the meal was already “smelly” or having an “odd odor.”

“They were hungry and had not eaten lunch so they decided to eat the meal,” he said.

Descaller said some of the patients with worse conditions were sent to hospitals in nearby Kidapawan City.

He described the health conditions in the earthquake-devastated areas in North Cotabato as one of the worst he has seen.

“Many of the evacuation centers have only tarp[aulin] for shelter and most of them do not have latrines,” Descaller pointed out.

Descaller said rescue officials have a hard time sending earth-moving equipment to satisfy the demand for latrines.

He said the lack of latrines pose a potential health risk to thousands of quake victims in the evacuation centers. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)