WHILE there are no cholera cases yet in Negros Occidental, the public is still urged be cautious about the food and water they are taking as they may be contaminated.

This was the reminder of Negros Occidental Provincial Health Officer Dr. Ernell Tumimbang yesterday, September 19, following the reported confirmed cholera case in Bacolod City.

The patient was a 37-year-old female, who was admitted at the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital (CLMMRH) in the city.

“If there is a case in a certain locality, you need to step up the investigation,” Tumimbang stressed, saying that "usually, the bacteria that causes cholera thrives in unclean water sources and food."

“Loss of fluid is very fast, it starts two hours after infection and if it goes beyond that without treatment through water replenishment, it could be fatal with high chances of mortality,” he said.

Tumimbang noted that cholera’s symptoms do not include stomach ache but the infected person would be experiencing watery stool and vomiting.

The provincial health officer also urged local health authorities to inspect water refilling stations and even establishments selling food to ensure public health safety, adding that they should have sanitation permits.

For her part, Bacolod City Health Office Environment Sanitation Division head Dr. Grace Tan advised the public to get water for drinking only from refilling stations with updated bacteriological monitoring.

Tan likewise reminded the public to ensure that water pipes or hose from Baciwa-PrimeWater have no holes or bandages as contamination may seep in.

“If water for domestic use comes from a deep well, whether by hand pump or timba, it should be ensured that water plates are not broken while washing, bathing or laundry should be done away from the water source,” she said.

Tan added that the water source should be at least 25 meters from other sources of contaminants like toilet and garbage, among others, saying that chlorination should be done regularly and dug wells should be tightly covered.

Each household should have its own toilet, Tan said, while discouraging the use of open defecation.

“Sharing may be allowed provided sanitation is maintained (but) all wastes should go into a concrete septic vault and not in waterways or bodies of water- creeks, canals, rivers, sea,” the doctor said.

It is also important, Tan said, that individuals always wash hands with soap and water before and after eating, food preparation, and caring for the sick; after using the toilet, washing or cleaning babies and adults and pets; after coughing, sneezing; before feeding the baby.

Aside from that, Tan reiterated, the public should avoid eating raw meat, sea foods and vegetables contaminated with night soil and human wastes, wash thoroughly and cook well, and keep or maintain the food hot or cold and keep it covered.

Tan disclosed that they are now monitoring the possible cholera cases (from community and hospitals) and they will also conduct water sampling and health education in various barangays.

Meanwhile, Provincial Administrator Atty. Rayfrando Diaz II said the provincial government is concerned about the province's water sources, especially that most areas in the province are still relying on open wells as a source for their water needs.

Diaz said these open wells can easily get contaminated, especially during heavy downpours which can ultimately cause flooding.

He also reminded the 31 local government units (LGUs) in the province to strictly enforce a “zero open defecation” policy in order to combat cholera and other water-borne diseases.

Diaz also emphasized the importance of the Provincial Integrated Water Security Council Organizational Meeting held last Friday, wherein they approved the Negros Occidental Provincial Integrated Water Security Plan (PIWSP).

Diaz said establishing the PIWSP would help organize the state of the water supply and sanitation of the province and would minimize and even eradicate any water-borne diseases. (with reports from TDE)