TRECE MARTIRES CITY, Philippines — Health officials on Friday advised residents of a village hit by an outbreak of dysentery to refrain from dinking water from their faucets as the number of stricken residents rose to 375.
Officials from the National Epidemiology Center (NEC) of the Department of Health and the local health office met with the residents of the village of Cabezas to explain what caused the sudden spread of the water-borne disease.
Dr. Nilo Tayag, NEC chief, reminded the residents to boil the water for three minutes before drinking it as the results of tests they conducted on several water samples from the community revealed the presence of dysentery-causing bacteria.
Tayag also told the residents to regularly wash their hands with antibacterial soap after using the toilet and before eating.
Dr. Ma. Vilma Diez, provincial health officer, said the official results of the tests on the water samples will be out early next week.
Diez said people should not panic as dysentery is not deadly if treated properly.
“We would like to remind the resident of Trece Martires that unlike dengue, dysentery could be easily treated with antibiotic medicines,” Diez told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.
Diez said aside from oral rehydration formula, the local government has been distributing bottled water and antibiotics to afflicted residents.
From 322 cases as of Thursday, the number of stricken residents increased to 375 by Friday, she said, adding that at least five patients had been admitted to hospitals since the outbreak started last Saturday.
“All the other patients were only brought to the local health centers for check up,” she said.
In an earlier interview, Diez said the disease could have been caused by at least three leaking pipes distributing potable water to the community. The pipes were from the main line of the Trece Martires Water District.
Diez said the water utility could be held liable for failure to repair the leaks to avoid contamination.