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BACOLOD, Philippines – Bacolod City health officials scrambled on Monday, October 17, to access private laboratories to undertake testing of water samples from deep wells, water refilling stations, and even piped in supply as it confirmed three new cholera cases, raising total cases in the city to nine.
The announcement by Dr. Carmela Gensoli, head of the City Health Office, came as E.B. Magalona, a town in Negros Occidental’s 3rd district, reported a death from cholera – the second in the province.
E.B. Magalona Mayor Marvin Malacon said the victim was a 37-year-old male from Hacienda Manalo 5 in Barangay Tanza.
The patient died on October 11, a day after he was admitted to the Teresita Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City. Doctors diagnosed his death as due to septic shock from infectious diarrhea and severe dehydration.
Malacon declared cholera outbreaks in Barangays Tanza and Batya, and Barangay 3.
Provincial Health Office chief Dr. Ernell Tumimbang said the province, not including its independently administered capital Bacolod, has a total of 12 cholera deaths, all in District 3 coastal villages.
The Bacolod City Health Office chief told reporters they have not yet identified the water source or sources causing “sporadic” cholera cases in the city.
She said they have reached out to private testing laboratories for parallel, independent, third-party tests, and to fast-track the identification of contaminated water sources.
The city earlier said that water samples sent for testing at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine tested negative for Vibrio cholerae bacteria, which causes the disease.
Genssoli said the city would begin chlorination operations of deep wells in barangays with cholera cases.
These include Mansilingan, Tangub, Alijis Sum-ag, Granada, Barangay 14, and Handumanan.
Cholera, which is caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacteria, is often transmitted by contaminated water.
The City Health Office chief said the cases could also be due to poor food handling or lack of hygiene, though she did not go into details.
“That’s why I issued an advisory to remind residents to ensure their water supply is clean and potable,” Gensoli said.
The increase in cholera cases is worrisome as thousands of visitors and returning residents are streaming into Bacolod for its 43rd MassKara Festival, which peaks in the last week of October.
The City Health Office recommended 112 water refilling stations to stop selling water because they lacked sanitary and business permits.
The Environmental and Sanitation Department has started inspecting food stalls, especially around the Bacolod Public Plaza and the Bacolod City government center, the center of MassKara festivities characterized by an array of the best Negrense foods and a spike in the consumption of alcohol. – Rappler.com