PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan — Key health officials gathered Thursday in the southern Palawan town of Quezon to investigate a suspected outbreak of diarrhea that affected 727 residents since July and allegedly caused the death of four people.
Dr. Allan Paciones of the Municipal Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) of Quezon confirmed that representatives of the Department of Health (DOH) are indeed in their town to check on the high number of diarrhea cases that have been reported and recorded in almost all 14 barangays.
Initial reports received by the local media from Quezon said the outbreak is suspected to have started in July with only a few cases and ballooned to 727.
Although all indications show that it might have been caused by water-borne bacteria, many are intestinal parasites that attack the circulatory system through walls of the digestive tract.
Mayor Joselito Ayala of Quezon told PNA that although this has to be confirmed by the DOH, emergency measures have already been administered to those affected.
Asked about the deaths, he declined to confirm pending the result of the DOH probe team.
Eden Cascara, staff of the MDRRMO, said many patients who were interviewed said that they seem to have contracted the disorder after consuming shellfish from the coastal waters.
“The others said that their stomach started hurting after they ate crabs, shrimps and shells,” Cascara said.
Though unconfirmed, a report claimed that one victim of the diarrhea outbreak was a pastor who was brought to the hospital because he complained of extreme diarrhea after coming home from a wedding.
The pastor was said to have died while being treated in a hospital in the said town.
Dr. Rommel Lisan, head of the DOH’s Environmental and Occupational Health, said water sampling tests will be conducted to find out the exact cause of the alleged outbreak.
On reported mortalities, Lisan said they have taken note of them but will only confirm if it will be proven that they are related to the reported diarrhea occurrence.
“It can be caused by bacteria, amoeba or a case of food poisoning. We really need to investigate, and if local laboratories cannot do the test, they should have come to us,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Palawan Provincial Health Office (PHO) has distributed in the municipality Aquatab purification tablets to treat drinking water.