Baguio City

Baguio health officials declare end of critical period in gastroenteritis outbreak

Mia Magdalena Fokno

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Baguio health officials declare end of critical period in gastroenteritis outbreak

DOH-CAR joins the investigation into the acute gastroenteritis cases in Baguio City.

Department of Health-Cordillera FB page

Some stool samples taken from patients admitted to Baguio hospitals tested positive for Norovirus and Sapovirus

BAGUIO, Philippines – Health officials in Baguio announced on Sunday, January 14, that the critical period of the city’s acute gastroenteritis outbreak is now over, with a dramatic decline in the number of cases since January 9. 

From a peak of 520 cases on January 8, the number dropped to just 14 on Sunday. 

City Health Officer Celia Flor Brillantes reported the downtrend to Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who then emphasized the need to continue investigations to identify the exact cause and source of the infections. 

Dr. Brillantes noted that there were 3,087 self-reported cases as of January 14. The majority of those who fell ill are female, aged 21-30, presenting symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. 

Health authorities tested most of the stool samples collected from hospitals positive for two viruses suspected to have factored in the acute gastroenteritis outbreak in the city.

Positive for 2 viruses

Some 60% of the stool samples taken from patients admitted to Baguio hospitals tested positive for Norovirus and Sapovirus, said Dr. Donabel Panes of the Baguio City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit.

Specifically, five cases were identified with Norovirus, and three cases with Sapovirus. 

Norovirus and Sapovirus, both types of viruses causing gastroenteritis, are known for symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. 

Belonging to the Caliciviridae family, Norovirus is highly contagious and often linked to outbreaks. It spreads through contaminated food and water. 

Sapovirus, another member of the Caliciviridae family, also causes gastroenteritis and spreads similarly. 

Both infections show rapid onset, with symptoms manifesting within 12 hours to two days. Despite the discomfort, they usually resolve on their own. Hydration and good hygiene, including handwashing, are crucial to prevent their spread. 

Local health officials, however, said further tests are required to determine the exact pathogen responsible for the outbreak. 

The local health office also said 10 of the 64 water samples it collected tested positive for E. coli.

Baguio’s health authorities, however, are still facing a blank wall to identify the source of the infections. Dr. Panes said continuous efforts were being made to correlate environmental and laboratory data to identify the infection source. 

Fortunately, officials said, the outbreak has not resulted in fatalities. 

Meanwhile, the local health office’s public health laboratory conducted microbial analyses of 64 samples from water sources and found 10 positive for E.coli.

The Baguio Water District, however, said its initial tests on its water sources showed negative results for E.coli. 

Initial tests on various sources, including Harrison Deepwell and Malvar 2 Deepwell, showed they were negative for fecal coliforms, adhering to the 2017 Philippines National Standards for Drinking Water.

The BWD, which sources water from 63 deep wells, and has 77 pumping stations, and other facilities, has 48,450 active service connections.

Engineer Fernando Peria, a BWD division head, said “We are working closely with the local government and the CHSO (City Health Services Office) to test all the district’s water sources, including those from private suppliers.” 

Dr. Ian Christian Gonzales of the Department of Health’s (DOH) Epidemiology Bureau advised the public to use treated water and practice strict hand-washing routines. 

The city government has also issued a public advisory to urge people in Baguio to boil their drinking water as a precaution. –

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