Diarrhea kills 9, downs 963 others in Eastern Visayas

TACLOBAN CITY — At least nine people, mostly children, have died and 963 others were downed as diarrhea plagued 10 towns in four provinces of Eastern Visayas, the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Thursday.

Roderick Boyd Cerro, chief of the DOH regional epidemiology and surveillance unit said their office rushed to contain the outbreak that has been affecting several areas in the region since third week of May.

“Contamination of drinking water sources brought by sudden rainfall is the major cause why we have sporadic cases of diarrhea,” Cerro said in a mobile phone interview.

Catbalogan City, Calbiga, Talalora, and Sta. Rita towns in Samar province have reported two deaths each or a total of eight casualties. The ninth casualty is from Sta. Margarita, Samar. Most victims are children below 10 years old, according to Cerro.

Hilongos, Leyte has the most number of victims at 316, followed by Calbiga, Samar at 215.

In Samar, cases were reported in Catbalogan City (172), Sta. Rita (113), Talalora (28), Pinabacdao (19), Sta. Margarita (11), and Basey (five). Other affected areas are Lavezares in Northern Samar (30) and Jipapad in Eastern Samar (54).

Elena Villarosa, DOH Eastern Visayas regional information officer said teams have been deployed to Gamay, Las Navas, and Lavezares in Northern Samar to investigate newly-reported diarrhea outbreak.

“There is an increasing incidence of diarrhea in some areas due to person-to-person transmission through unsanitary food and water handling. Other factors are absence of toilets and proximity of open dumpsites to water sources,” Vilalrosa said.

Although the recent diarrhea plague is alarming, the official said that DOH is in control of the situation as they’re able to treat cases through medication and distribution of aquatabs and chlorine to curb contamination. These supplies are also available in health facilities and rural health units.

“With the onset of rainy season, we urged our local health workers to regularly check water sources, especially deep wells for possible contamination. They have to warned communities of potential threats and inform them of ways to purify drinking water,” Cerro explained.

To curb diarrhea, the public are advised to wash hands before cooking foods, wash foods before cooking, cover foods, practice personal hygiene, practice proper disposal of waste and use of sanitary toilets, and practice health seeking behavior especially for children who are prone to develop more serious illness and complications.

Diarrhea is characterized by stomach pain, headache, body weakness and watery stools. The worst is dehydration that can cause death. Sarwell Meniano/PNA/northboundasia.com