HEALTH officials revealed yesterday diarrhea and amoebiasis cases in a hillside barangay in Tudela town rose from 25 to 44 in just a week.

An official of the Department of Health (DOH) said the incident could have worsened had it not been handled immediately.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

The Cebu Provincial Health office reported yesterday only one patient from Barangay Calmante remains confined in the hospital, while the others were asked to self-medicate at home.

Dr. Cristina Giango, Cebu provincial health officer, told reporters that while the diarrhea and amoebiasis cases in Barangay Calmante in Tudela increased to 44, the situation is “already under control.”

She added that it was not alarming, since only three percent of the barangay’s population of 1,323 residents was affected.

Admissions have increased due to fears among residents that they may be suffering from an outbreak of cholera in their area, she said.

However, Giango denied reports the residents have cholera, citing results of tests on their stool samples.

Dr. Susana Madarieta, DOH 7 director, said it was the first time the agency heard that Barangay Calmante reported mass admissions due to diarrhea and amoebiasis.

She applauded local health officials for their quick assessment and response.

She also asked the local government of Tudela to examine a well in the barangay and check its water quality, to make sure the water is safe to drink.

As diarrhea and amoebiasis are food and water-borne, a thorough check on what the residents ate or drank since the incident began will be needed.

As of yesterday, the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (PESU) brought some supplies of chlorine tablets, medicines and Oresol, a solution of sugar, salt and water, to Barangay Calmante.

The team from the Capitol also monitored the hospital fees of the affected residents, so they won’t be paying a single centavo while being treated, said Giango. Some of the residents were admitted to the Ricardo Maningo Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, Camotes since Tuesday.

Dr. Giango also revealed Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has ordered the Provincial Water Task Force to check on the barangay’s well, which was believed to be the source of the residents’ ailments.

Amoebiasis is an infection of the bowels whose symptoms include diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

In an administrative order in December 2007, the DOH national office listed diarrhea among the 10 leading causes of death among children. A DOH field survey in 2006 found that 707 out of every 100,000 children younger than five years suffered from acute watery diarrhea that year.

The agency recommended oral rehydration salts and zinc supplements to prevent severe dehydration, which can prove fatal, and recurrence of the disease.