DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 24 July) — A four-man medical team from the Epidemiology Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH) in Manila took water samples from the distribution pipes of the Davao City Water District (DCWD) in Toril District to determine the cause of last week’s diarrhea outbreak
City Health Office (CHO) head Dr. Ashley Lopez told Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Saturday that the water samples taken on Friday will undergo confirmatory test at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Manila to determine if the outbreak was due to bacteria causing water-borne infection.
CHO reported a total of 231 diarrhea cases in Toril District from July 15 to 22.
Out of 231 cases, 170 are active, 58 recovered, and three of the victims have died.
Lopez said that as of Saturday, no patient was reported in critical condition.
He said they could not release findings of the preliminary investigation and would instead await the more conclusive result of the extensive investigation, to avoid causing panic to the public particularly residents of Toril area.
In a statement released on July 18, the Davao City Water District (DCWD) said that based on its water sampling and testing conducted in 10 stations across Puan, Bago Gallera, Baliok, Bago Aplaya and Toril, the water in these affected areas tested negative for Escherichia coli and total coliform.
“The water samples taken from the 10 stations underwent Colilert-18 test. All samples yielded negative results for the presence of Escherichia coli and total coliform with chlorine residuals of 0.3-1.5 ppm,” it said.
It added that the water distributed by DCWD to its customers is not contaminated with bacteria causing waterborne diseases such as diarrhea and that there is enough chlorine to protect and disinfect the water through the distribution network.
It said the quality of water supply meets the parameters of the Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water from the water sources to the distribution networks.
It added that DCWD also found no major leaks in its distribution line along the affected areas when it conducted leak detection activities on top of the water sampling and testing.
“DCWD ensures customers that it has protocols in place to safeguard the quality of water it provides to the customers. As part of its water quality monitoring, DCWD conducts monthly monitoring of sources, reservoirs, and representative sampling points at customers’ taps,” it said.
The diarrhea patients came from 18 affected barangays in Toril District and three in Talomo.
Affected areas in Toril are Alambre, Bangkas Heights, Baracatan, Bato, Binugao, Camansi, Catigan, Crossing Bayabas, Daliao, Daliaon Plantation, Eden, Lizada, Lubogan, Marapangi, Mulig, Sirawan, Toril Proper, and Tungkalan while in the Talomo District, affected are Bago Aplaya, Baliok and Dumoy.
Lopez on Friday said patients started manifesting symptoms of diarrhea after eating street food like “isaw” or grilled chicken entrail and tapioca drink sold by night market vendors on Rasay Street in Toril.
“The source is very common among them – presumably the street food – because right after the intake of food from that area, they manifested LBM, vomiting, and other symptoms related to acute gastroenteritis,” he said.
The city government immediately ordered temporary suspension of the operations of the night market operation and required all street food vendors to attend the food handling seminar on Thursday where 400 participated.
He said the local government will not resume the night market unless the outbreak is over. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)