Bacolod declares food, waterborne disease outbreak

THE Bacolod City Health Office (CHO) declared a “food and waterborne diseases outbreak” in Barangay Handumanan after 145 pupils of Handumanan Elementary School-I were brought to different hospitals in the city since Friday due to suspected food poisoning.

Dr. Grace Tan, head of the CHO Environmental Sanitation Division, said the situation is considered to be an outbreak because of the large number of cases.

Of the 145 patients confined in various hospitals from Friday to Sunday, 11 were already discharged as of press time.

An initial report said the pupils drank fruit juice and ate halo-halo, ice candy, and fried chicken.

The schoolchildren were brought to Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital (CLMMRH), Bacolod Adventist Medical Center (BAMC), The Doctors’ Hospital, and South Bacolod General Hospital.

Handumanan resident Helmar Returan told Sun.Star Bacolod Sunday that his two children suffered diarrhea and nausea on Saturday morning, prompting him to bring them to The Doctors’ Hospital.

His nine-year-old son was first to be confined, but has already been discharged while his six-year-old daughter is still at the hospital due to high fever.

She has infection based on the urine sample, he said, adding that further tests, including stool examination, will also be conducted to determine the cause his daughter’s illness.

According to a report from the City Mayor’s Office, water sampling from four sources in Handumanan, including the source of ice used in fruit juices that were sold to the pupils, were subjected to bacteriological examination.

The CHO-Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit also got samples of fruit juices and food sold by ambulant vendors for sampling.

Tan said they are still awaiting the results of the stool examinations to specifically determine the causes of the schoolchildren’s illnesses.

Classes in Handumanan Elementary Schools I and II have been suspended Monday, October 17.

Meanwhile, Mayor Evelio Leonardia called for an emergency meeting with city officials, department heads, and executive assistants Sunday to initiate efforts to immediately contain the outbreak.

The mayor met with, among others, City Health Officer Ma. Carmela Gensoli, Dr. Rodolfo Dumayas Jr. of the Department of Health-Development Management Office in Bacolod, City Schools Division Superintendent Cynthia Demavivas, and several department heads of CLMMRH led by Dr. Mary Johnson Cabaluna.

Also present were Bacolod City Representative Greg Gasataya, Councilor Em Ang, City Administrator John Orola, and Sally Abelarde of the Department of Social Services and Development (DSSD).

CHO officials have secured medicines for all the patients, from the DOH Regional Office-6.

Supply of medicines will last until the patients fully recover while those who have been discharged will still be given medicines, the City Mayor’s Office said.

Moreover, Cabaluna reported that a patient admitted at BAMC and another at CLMMRH tested positive for cholera. They recommended that all the children admitted, including those already discharged, will be treated as if they have cholera.

Leonardia also instructed the CHO and the Department of Education to conduct a seminar on food safety and proper food handling to all canteen operators and ambulant vendors in all 46 elementary and 22 secondary public schools in Bacolod.

The CHO and DepEd will start conducting the seminar next week.

Since Friday, the DSSD have been distributing food packs to patients and their watchers at the hospitals.

The CHO also deployed its doctors from the Health Emergency Management to different hospitals to act as point persons.

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