Four persons have already died in the diarrhea outbreak that has hit Balabac since December last year, the provincial health office said Tuesday.
Dr. Mary Ann Navarro of the Provincial Health Office (PHO) also said the number of people who have been treated for diarrhea symptoms in the town’s hospital and health clinics has reached 180, from about a hundred as of mid-January.
“So far, in our unofficial data, 180 na ‘yong cases from December 25 up to second week nitong January. Four deaths reported at naghihintay pa kami ng latest report from the Municipal Health Office (MHO),” Navarro said.
Among the reported fatalities were two children and two adults, even as Navarro said they have yet to receive an official report on the deaths from the municipal health office.
Authorities have traced the outbreak to the contamination by E. coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria of the town’s water table.
Navarro explained that contaminated water supply is the main cause of the outbreak in town since all deep wells they investigated had tested positive for E.coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria.
She said that based on the water tests they did in various areas of the town proper, the town’s underground water has been contaminated.
“Grabe ‘yong water supply nila doon, contaminated talaga. In fact, halos doon sa buong Balabac proper wala kang makukunan ng safe drinking water. Ang lumalabas sa poso may amoy at noong tinesting halos lahat ay positive sa coliform,” she said.
Navarro pointed out that based on surveys, around 30 percent of all residents in Balabac have no access to toilets.
Navarro said an “extensive environmental sanitation” should be done in the affected areas in Balabac.
“Yong water table ng Balabac is very shallow, kaya kunting dig mo lang may water ng lalabas tapos mababa ang access sa sanitary toilets kaya kailangan talaga doon ng extensive sanitation,” she said.
Affected areas are Barangays Salang, Melville, Ramos Island, and Agutayan.
Navarro said their office has already provided intravenous (I.V.) fluids and medicines intended for the diarrhea patients.
She added they have been distributing aquatabs to treat the local residents’ drinking water.
Navarro advised that residents should boil their water before drinking to ensure safety.
“I-disinfect mo muna ‘yong tubig, don’t mind ‘yong lasa na parang amoy chlorine and it is better kasi ibig sabihin patay na ang mga bacteria and germs doon,” Navarro said.