THE Municipal Government of Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte declared a diarrhea outbreak in one of its barangays on Saturday, July 17, 2021, in the wake of the death of one of its residents and the hospitalization of 47 others.
In a press release, Sto. Tomas Mayor Ernesto Evangelista said the local government declared an outbreak in Barangay Tulalian after some residents experienced vomiting and diarrhea.
"Sukad na gipahibalo sa atoa ang maong sitwasyon, nagpadala dayon kita og Quick Reaction Team para maghatag og assistance sa mga residente ug para imbestigahan ang maong panghitabo,” Evangelista said on Saturday.
(Since we were informed of the situation, the municipal government immediately sent Quick Reaction Team to provide assistance to the residents and investigate the incident.)
The assistance provided to the affected residents was health and sanitation services, among others.
The mayor added that the local government has provided potable water to affected areas to ensure the outbreak would not escalate.
According to Municipal Health Officer Dr. June Lim, there were 171 residents of Tulalian who were diagnosed with acute diarrhea secondary to amoebiasis.
Of the 171 registered cases, 24 cases were recorded in one- to five-year-olds, 43 cases (six- to 15-year-olds), 29 cases (16- to 25-year-olds), 27 cases (26- to 40-year-olds), and 48 cases (40-year-olds and up).
As of Saturday, the Municipal Health Office (MHO) reported one death — a 58-year-old male resident who experienced loose bowel movement, stomach pain and vomiting.
Forty-seven residents were rushed to both private and public hospitals; some are still recovering while others were discharged. Puroks 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, and 15A in Brgy Tulalian were identified by the MHO to be the affected areas with 128 households.
On Friday, the MHO’s health personnel provided medical care to several residents who suffered amoebiasis, a water-borne ailment.
Tulalian’s covered court was turned into a makeshift medical facility where severely dehydrated patients — young children and adults — were immediately given first-aid treatment.
Initially, the municipal government reported that there were two deaths. However, one patient was revived.
"The child was revived per info from Barangay Health Worker," Municipal Information Officer Mart Sambalud told media via Messenger on Saturday noon.
MHO Administrator Charlemagne Fernandez said the local government is currently determining the cause of the outbreak.
However, the Environment Sanitation Report from the MHO revealed that the water system source in the area is possibly contaminated due to poor chlorine disinfection. The finding was based on the ocular inspection conducted by the Sanitation Team and random interviews with the Tulalian Water Association (Tuwasa) personnel.
Fernandez, however, said the result of the initial probe is not yet conclusive as the official result of the microbiological water analysis is expected to be released on Monday, July 19.
She also said the MHO is still waiting for the results of the 15 patients who were subjected to rectal swabbing that would help them determine the bacteria in the patients’ feces.
According to the municipal government, three Barangay Tulalian residents on Wednesday, July 14, sought medical help in the MHO after they experienced loose bowel movement, stomach pain, and vomiting, the usual symptoms of diarrhea.
Another 16 residents visited the MHO the following day. Alarmed by the influx of patients, the MHO immediately visited the barangay and found out that other residents reportedly fell ill with suspected diarrhea believed to have been caused by contaminated drinking water.
On Thursday, July 15, MHO assisted patients who fell ill as some were recommended for admissions to hospitals for treatment.
Municipal Administrator lawyer Elisa Evangelista-Lapiña said the local government immediately provided potable water, installed a makeshift treatment facility in Tulalian covered court, meals, and other medical support to patients complaining of severe diarrhea.
The government also provided new water containers and water-purification chemicals to the affected areas while residents have been briefed about cleaning their surroundings and maintaining proper sanitation to prevent another outbreak.
“Padayon ang atong pagmonitor sa sitwasyon para masigurado nato na wala na madugang na biktima (We are continuously monitoring the situation to ensure that there won’t be additional victims),” Evangelista-Lapiña said.
To avoid future outbreaks, she urged the barangay to sit down with Tuwasa to discuss how to improve the water supply in the barangay.
She added that the Santo Tomas municipal government is ready to guide and improve water services delivery in the area.
In early January this year one died while 33 others were hospitalized due to a diarrhea outbreak in Barangay Butuan in Jose Abad Santos (JAS) town, Davao Occidental.