By Razel V. Cuizon
Monday, October 6, 2014
THE Cebu City Health Department inspected water sources in Barangay Guadalupe yesterday after a reported typhoid fever outbreak in two sitios.
One resident died and seven others were brought to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) after suffering from fever and diarrhea, both symptoms of typhoid fever.City Health Chief Daisy Villa has yet to confirm if it is already an outbreak because her office is still conducting a series of tests.
“We have cases of confirmed diarrhea but we have yet to confirm if it is typhoid fever, which is a more serious case,” Villa explained.
Typhoid fever is an infection common in areas with “unsafe drinking water due to inadequate sewage disposal and flooding,” the World Health Organization said in a bulletin last January.
Resistance to common antibiotics has complicated the problem, and as many as 17 million persons worldwide suffer from typhoid fever every year, most of them between the ages of five and 12 years old.
To keep typhoid fever from spreading, communities are advised to provide safe water supply and proper sanitation; exclude disease carriers from handling food; and teach everyone about personal hygiene, especially washing hands after using toilets and before preparing food.
Dr. Raymond Ogan of the City Health Department said an outbreak can be declared if a certain area where the disease occurred has no records of the disease in the past five years.
“Even if there are only two to three cases of a disease in a barangay but such did not happen in the span of five years, that’s already an outbreak,” he said.
Ogan, though, pointed out that only Villa, as chief of the City Health Department, and Mayor Michael Rama, as chief executive of the city, can declare an outbreak in an area.
“For now, we don’t have a confirmed outbreak in the two sitios because we are still collecting the records of diseases that have occurred in the barangay from their health center,” he added.
Acting Mayor Edgardo Labella visited the barangay hall yesterday to inquire about the situation and asked barangay officials to have all their water supplies checked.
Sanitary inspectors collected water samples from the three water suppliers in Sitio Tugasan and Sandayong yesterday, where the individuals with suspected typhoid fever live.
Water samples from two other water suppliers in Sitios Kanaas and Lumbani were also tested. The suppliers got their water from a deep well and spring in the area.
The water samples were submitted to the laboratory of the City Health Department yesterday.
“We have to determine what kind of bacteria is present that might have caused the infection among the residents,” Villa said. The fever typically spreads through contaminated food and water.
Teodora Buendejo, 30, of Sitio Tugasan died in the hospital yesterday after suffering from fever and diarrhea, said Guadalupe Barangay Councilor Apol Ross Enriquez.
Buendejo, who hailed from Dalaguete in southern Cebu, initially suffered complications in her lungs before her fever and diarrhea, which is why the City Health Department (CHD) cannot confirm yet if she died of typhoid fever.
Barangay officials and CHD have yet to secure a copy of Buendejo’s diagnosis from her physician because she was immediately brought to her hometown upon her release from the hospital.
Seven other patients, all of whom suffered from fever and severe headaches, were brought to VSMMC yesterday.
“The seven also manifest the symptoms of typhoid fever,” Dr. Ogan said.
Before they were rushed to the hospital yesterday, Enriquez said the barangay had encouraged them to have themselves checked by a doctor but they refused.
“We sent an ambulance and a BHW (barangay health worker) last Thursday to the place to fetch them and bring them to the hospital but they declined because they don’t have enough resources to pay hospital bills,” Enriquez said.
It was only when the report of Buendejo’s death reached them that the seven decided to seek medical attention.
Residents in Sitio Tugasan told CHD personnel yesterday during their inspection that the water from the two sources in their place were used only for laundry and bathing.
“Di man na namo imnon ang supply nga tubig pero ang uban nga way kaya ikapalit og mineral, mapugos nalang gyod ug inom (We don’t usually drink that supply, but those who can’t afford to buy mineral water end up drinking it),” said Gilbert Dinoyo.
For P35 per gallon, most of the families get water delivered by a purified water distributor.
Kevin Desoacedo, one of the sons of Michelle and Cesario Desoacedo who were brought to the hospital, said their family used to drink the water supply from their area.
They switched to mineral water after Michelle fell ill.
Records from the barangay also showed five cases of confirmed diarrhea in Sitio Kalubihan, four in Dakit, three in Kasagingan, two in Sandayong and one in Tipolo Ville last month.
After getting the water samples yesterday, CHD hopes to have the results out today.
While authorities have yet to confirm if the water supply was contaminated, barangay officials of Guadalupe reminded their constituents not to drink water from untested water sources.