‘Water-borne bacteria likely cause of diarrhea outbreak in Davao Occidental town’

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 04 January) — The diarrhea outbreak that downed at least 35 people in remote Jose Abad Santos town in Davao Occidental may have been caused by a  water-borne bacteria, a volunteer doctor suspected Monday.

Dr. Roel Cagape, founder of the non-profit Hearts and Brains, Inc. based in Malapatan, Sarangani who responded to Jose Abad Santos on Sunday to help the victims, said the outbreak has been put under control.

“When I arrived there, personnel from the PHO (Provincial Health Office) were already at the hospital attending to the needs of the victims,” he said in a phone interview.

A person was reported dead, but Cagape said it could not be due to diarrhea but “because of bleeding from peptic ulcer.”

Cagape, who went to Barangay Butuan where the victims reside, found out that the water system of the village bogged down, forcing the villagers to drink water from a manual water pump that is near a septic tank.

He called for the conduct of a water analysis to determine if the water coming out of the pump is safe for drinking, considering that it’s near a toilet.

While the village’s water system was restored and the septic tank was condemned, a diarrhea outbreak could happen again if the water coming out of the pump is not deemed safe for drinking, he said, reiterating the need for a water analysis.

This was not the first time that a diarrhea outbreak occurred in the municipality, Cagape said.

Based on his interviews with the villagers, the latest outbreak started on December 31, or last Thursday, with the patients admitted to the hospital until Sunday, Cagape said.

Cagape turned over boxes of donated bottled waters to the locality.

Jose Abad Santos Mayor Jason John Joyce said that as of 3:55 pm Sunday, 31 victims have been confined at the Tomas Lachica District Hospital, while four others have been discharged already.

Joyce said that the local government established Sunday a command center at the municipal gymnasium to address concerns related to the diarrhea outbreak.

The mayor said that he’s set to convene Monday the various department heads to discuss measures to avoid another diarrhea outbreak in the village.

Joyce said the Department of Health-Davao, headed by Dr. Annabelle Yumang, sent water containers and intravenous fluids to the town in response to the diarrhea outbreak. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)