Health authorities have declared a diarrhea outbreak in Balabac. This, following the reported death of a female high school student recently and the hospitalization of some 100 residents from various barangays since the start of January.
Dr. Dennis Ponce de Leon, Balabac health officer, confirmed Sunday that the 16-year old student victim was a resident of Sitio Torong, Barangay Salang, where a water source had tested positive of Escherichia coli or E. coli by a Department of Health (DOH) team.
“Sixteen years old na babaeng high school student iyong namatay. Ang sabi baka daw na food poisoning dahil sa kinain na maliliit na isda. Baka nga food poisoning, ‘yon din ang suspetsa namin doon. Akala ko nga cholera, Pero sa Barangay Salang, noong nag-test ng tubig sa water source, ang dami-dami ng E. coli ang nakita,” he told Palawan News.
Ponce de Leon said they consider the diarrhea incident already an outbreak since more than a hundred were already affected, with 80 cases recorded since the beginning of the year.
Some of the patients were reported to be members of the Molbog indigenous peoples (IP) community on the island town.
“Outbreak kasi mas marami nang kaso doon sa usual cases na nangyayari per month. Medyo mataas talaga. Mataas siya hindi ko lang alam ko ilang percent ang itinaas niya. At saka more than 100 cases na kami ngayong January lang,” the municipal health officer stated.
Around 10 water sources that had been tested in initially four barangays in mainland Balabac all turned positive with E. coli, he added.
“We suspect that the cause ay itong mga human excretes, o kaya galing sa domestic animals papunta sa source ng tubig,” Ponce de Leon explained.
He mentioned that aside from Salang, the other areas where diarrhea was detected were in Barangays Melville, Ramos Island, and Agutayan.
The DOH and the Provincial Health Office (PHO) are now helping Balabac with the distribution of Aquatabs to treat water for drinking and anti-diarrheal drugs.
“Tumutulong na noong onset pa lang ang DOH at PHO sa amin. Nagbibigay sila ng gamot pandagdag, at patuloy namin mino-monitor ang mga kaso,” he said.
Patients are now being treated at the rural health unit (RHU) of Balabac, and at the Southern Palawan Provincial Hospital in Brooke’s Point. (with reports from Ruth Rodriguez)