DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 July) – Health officials of Santo Tomas town in Davao del Norte confirmed on Thursday that the water system and water stocks of refilling stations in Barangay Tulalian were contaminated with Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria that caused the outbreak since Wednesday last week.
Dr. June P. Lim, Santo Tomas town’s health officer, said in a press release that the result of an examination conducted by the water bacteriology laboratory of the Provincial Health Office showed the presence of E. coli in the water system and in the water stocks in two of the eight water refilling stations.
He said the E. coli, associated with human or animal wastes, is a strain that causes diarrhea/bloody diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pains and cramps.
The barangay was serviced by Tulalian Water Association (TUWASA), a private water service provider.
The six refilling stations that passed the test were Aquabless, Aqua Rhabmar, Crystal Sofia, Aquagel, AquaJam, and Sofia Malima.
The two others that failed were Aqua Grace and Jetmatic, Mart Sambalud, information officer of Santo Tomas, told MindaNews
In an interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5), Mayor Ernesto Evangelista said the authorities believed that the water pipes of TUWASA were old and leaky, which might have caused the contamination of the water supply.
Sambalud said the local government listed a total of 471 residents who suffered from diarrhea from drinking tap water as of Wednesday.
Three of the patients, a 58-year old male and two female patients, aged 81 and 69, all residents of Barangay Tulalian, died, while the rest have recovered, he said.
Of the total cases, three patients tested positive for COVID-19.
Findings of the random rectal swab tests conducted on 13 patients last July 16 showed that the diarrhea was caused by amoebiasis, acute gastroenteritis secondary to E. coli infection, and intestinal parasitism.
Aside from E. coli, various bacteria were also detected from the specimens such as vibrio cholerae, enterobacter chorelae, rhizobium radiobacter, aeronomas sobria, providencia alcalifaciens, aeromonas sobria, and klebsilla pneumoniae.
Sambalud said the Sangguniang Bayan will schedule an inquiry on the incident. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)