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THE number of Alegria residents suffering from typhoid-like symptoms has increased, according to the Department of Health (DOH) 7.
Elizabeth Tabasa, DOH 7 officer-in-charge, said 142 residents in Barangays Valencia and Madridejos have fallen ill as of yesterday, compared to 81 cases reported last Tuesday.
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Health officials conducted random typhi dot tests in the town and found that out of 16 who were tested, seven were found to be positive for the typhoid bacteria, while the rest were negative.
Typhi dot test detects the presence of the Salmonella typhi bacteria in the blood samples of persons suspected to have typhoid fever.
So far, 40 Alegria residents have been confined at the Badian District Hospital (22) and Reinhardt Wirtgen Memorial Hospital (18).
Tabasa said 102 persons sought out-patient treatment. Eight of them went to Badian, 24 to Reinhardt and 70 sought consultation from rural health units in their villages.
Tabasa told Sun.Star Cebu over the phone that the DOH 7 believes that water contamination is the most likely cause of the illness.
She said residents should boil their drinking water for at least five minutes and practice proper hygiene, like washing their hands before eating and after using the toilet.
She said the DOH gave the Municipal Government Aqua Tabs or chlorine tablets to disinfect water sources in the town.
Alegria Mayor Emelita Guisadio, however, said there is no confirmation that town residents have been taken ill because of the salmonella bacterium.
“Wa pa may resulta ang mga blood samples (The results of the blood tests have not been released yet),” said Guisadio, adding that some patients have recovered and were sent home.
She said the Municipal Government is using chlorinators to treat water sources in the affected barangay.
Several residents of Barangay Valencia, Alegria reportedly exhibited symptoms associated to typhoid fever.
In December last year, the DOH 7 declared a typhoid outbreak in Alegria. A significant number of typhoid cases was also reported in the town in 2007.
Guisadio said many town residents availed themselves of the medicines and medical consultations initiated by Capitol because these were for free.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia yesterday directed the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) and the Provincial Engineer’s Office to check on Alegria.
Provincial Health Officer Cristina Giango sent a medical team to Alegria yesterday.
Provincial Engineer Eulogio Pelayre, on the other hand, is looking into the town’s water supply project.
Garcia said two years ago, Capitol gave Alegria pipes for its water supply projects.
Valencia Barangay Captain Flora Amatril admitted that many households do not have toilets. But she said the local government distributed toilets to households.
She is not convinced that contaminated water is the cause of the recent cases.
She wondered why some residents in neighboring Barangay Sayaw got sick when they do not share drinking water sources with Barangay Valencia.
Guisadio lamented media reports identifying the recent illness as typhoid when the Regional Epidemiological Surveillance Unit has yet to come up with the test results of the blood samples of patients.
She said several people are sick with fever because of changes in the weather. She added that her child, who lives in Cebu City, has fever, too.
“Naalarma mi aning naabot sa media kay sa amo normal ra ni (We are alarmed by media reports. For us, fever is normal),” Guisadio said.
She said, though, that some people in the town want to declare Alegria under a state of calamity to tap calamity loans and grants.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 21, 2011.