Cholera epidemic hits Bicol
July 19, 2012 by bicolmail in Top Stories with 0 Comments
By Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY — Health authorities in Bicol have raised the alert status following the rising incidence of cholera that has already reached an epidemic level with 30 deaths and 3,158 people getting sick of the disease during the past two quarters of this year, a ranking official of the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday.
Dr. Nestor Santiago in an emailed report said his agency has registered a total of 3,158 cholera cases from January to July this year or a 610 percent rise compared to 445 reported during the same period last year.
Already 30 persons have been reported to have died within the same period due to cholera which health authorities blamed on contaminated drinking water and dirty food.
Santiago said the number of fatalities and those hit by the disease were culled from reports of both government and private hospitals in the six provinces of Bicol.
The DOH Epidemiology Surveillance Unit said cholera incidences were reported high in the island province of Catanduanes with 1,831 cases and 14 deaths; followed by Camarines Sur with 811 cases and seven deaths; Sorsogon, 291 cases with five deaths; Albay, 168 cases with four deaths; Camarines Norte, 54 cases and zero death; and Masbate with only three cholera patients and no death reported.
The report indicated that except for Camarines Norte which posted a decrease of 36 percent from last year’s 84 cases to 54 this year, all the other five Bicol provinces showed an increasing trend.
Alarmed by the surging incidence, health authorities declared a cholera epidemic throughout Bicol.
Health Director Santiago on July 2 this year issued an advisory urging provincial, city, and town executives to take the necessary health interventions to avert the worsening scenario of the disease.
The health directive urges local government units in affected areas to step up campaign on food and environmental sanitation by requiring food handlers and vendors to undergo rectal swabbing before they could be issued health certificates.
DOH also asked the LGUs to make available chlorine stock solutions to ensure safe drinking water in the communities.
Santiago also reminded the local chief executives to activate and mobilize their respective Water Quality Monitoring Committees to regularly check on the water sources of their communities and observe preventive and control measures to avert further spread of the disease.