‘Flesh-eating’ illness in Pangasinan a hoax, says DOH

Jee Y. Geronimo

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Health Secretary Enrique Ona says there is no reported case of 'flesh-eating' skin disease in the country yet

MANILA, Philippines – A “mysterious” skin disease supposedly linked to a prophecy for the Philippines is a hoax, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday, February 25.

“According to DOH Region I director, one is a leprosy with drug reaction, and the other is psoriasis,” Health Undersecretary Ted Herbosa told Rappler in a text message.

The allegedly flesh-eating skin disease spreading in Pangasinan was first reported Monday night, February 24, on ABS-CBN’s Bandila newscast

The ABS-CBN report said there were two patients with skin conditions doctors “could not identify.” They suspected various conditions: leprosy, skin allergy, lupus, and psoriasis. One patient had ants and worms coming out of her wounds, the report added. 

The story went viral on social media, with people even tweeting the hashtag “#prayforPangasinan” as a response.


The second part of the report, which has yet to air Tuesday night, will tackle the disease’s link to a prophecy by an Indian ‘prophet’ who visited the Philippines last year. 

During the 24th National Prayer Gathering last April 2013, Prophet Sadhu Sundar Selvaraja of Jesus Ministries prophesied the Philippines will experience destruction through winds, diseases, and floods.

“Pangasinan in the north will be affected with a terrible disease and when the disease comes, when it affects them, it will touch the skin, the flesh, and the bones. It will affect them,” he said. 

He also prophesied a typhoon in Compostela Valley and Tagum City; a “great destruction through winds” in Mindoro, Samar, and Palawan; and heavy flooding in Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Cebu.

Last year, Tropical Storm Maring and Super Typhoon Yolanda left great damage in Luzon and Visayas, respectively, and some are connecting this to the prophecy.


“There is no reported case of ‘flesh-eating’ skin disease in the country yet. Absolutely no reason for  the public to panic,” Health Secretary Enrique Ona said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

DOH Region I director Dr. Myrna Cabotaje said one of the patients who is on multi-drug therapy of leprosy has “already completed the treatment but may still need debridement for her skin lesions.”

She is currently being assessed for work-up for tuberculosis and current drug reaction, the statement added.

The second patient, meanwhile, has severe psoriasis – a chronic skin disease characterized by red patches covered with white scales.

Provincial health officer Anna Teresa De Guzman said the two patients are now admitted at the Pangasinan Provincial Hospital, and both cases are “controllable”, the province’s official Facebook page said in a post.  – Rappler.com 

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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.