Typhoid outbreak declared in Tuburan, Cebu

As much as 400 individuals in the area reported afflicted with typhoid fever

MANILA, Philippines – The health department on Monday, March 5, declared a typhoid fever outbreak in 54 barangays in Tuburan, Cebu.

As much as 400 individuals in the area have been afflicted by the disease. The number of cases was observed to have started piling up last February 22. Of the 400 reported cases, 31 were confined in hospitals in Tuburan, a coastal town located north of Cebu City.

Department of Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said the department is eyeing “contaminated water” as the cause of the outbreak. He said, however, that it is not clear yet whether the contaminated water came from pipelines or deep wells, the two sources of residents for their water.

Tayag said the health department has already dispatched teams to look into the outbreak. Meantime, he advised residents of the affected areas to boil or disinfect water, while health officials are waiting for lab results on the water tests.

Tayag said antibiotics were already distributed to those requiring treatment. This is to prevent deaths due to intestinal hemorrhage or severe bacterial infection.

Potentially fatal disease

Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi.

A person can get it from food or drink contaminated by the feces or urine of infected people.

Typhoid symptoms usually develop 1–3 weeks after exposure, and may be mild or severe. Symptoms include high fever, malaise, headache, constipation or diarrhea, rose-colored spots on the chest, and an enlarged spleen and liver.

Even after symptoms go away, those afflicted may still be carrying Salmonella Typhi, according to information published by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This means the illness could return, or the person previously afflicted could pass the disease to other people.

How to avoid typhoid

The CDC lists down the following tips to avoid typhoid:

  • If you drink water, buy it bottled or bring it to a rolling boil for 1 minute before you drink it. 
  • Ask for drinks without ice–unless the ice is made from bottled or boiled water. Avoid popsicles and flavored ices that may have been made with contaminated water.
  • Eat foods that have been thoroughly cooked and that are still hot and steaming.
  • Avoid raw vegetables and fruits that cannot be peeled. Vegetables like lettuce are easily contaminated and are very hard to wash well.
  • When you eat raw fruit or vegetables that can be peeled, peel them yourself. (Wash your hands with soap first.) Do not eat the peelings.
  • Avoid foods and beverages from street vendors. It is difficult for food to be kept clean on the street, and many travelers get sick from food bought from street vendors. – Rappler.com

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