By John Noel E. Herrera and Joseph B.A. Marzan
Cases of Acute Gastroenteritis (AGE) caused by contaminated food or water in Iloilo City and province have breached the 500-mark.
Data from Iloilo City Health Office’s (ICHO) Epidemiological Surveillance Unit (CESU) indicated that there are 522 AGE cases in the metro as 10 persons already succumbed to the infection as of Sept 11, 2022.
The Iloilo Provincial ESU data as of the same date indicated 36 new AGE cases in areas outside of the city.
ICHO-CESU reported that 456 or 87.5 percent of AGE cases have already recovered, while 35 are still admitted, and 20 are under treatment at home.
The CESU reported 296 cases between Sept. 1 and 11, in addition to the 226 cases already reported between April until the end of July.
Out of this number, 456 have already recovered, while 35 are admitted to a healthcare facility, 20 are treated at home, and 10 have died.
So far, the greatest number of AGE cases logged on a single date was on August 31 (102), while the highest for this month was on Sept. 1 (55).
The latest AGE deaths in Iloilo City were reported on Sept 2, those of a 46-year-old male from City Proper logged at the West Visayas State University Medical Center in Jaro, and a 3-year-old male from Arevalo district who died on arrival at the Western Visayas Medical Center in Mandurriao.
Cholera, which was also cited as a reason for the state of calamity in Iloilo City last Sept 2, remained at 12 cases with no new confirmations since Sept 5.
Despite the high recovery rate, ICHO head Dr. Annabelle Tang said there is no indication that the cases are going down as the city recorded additional 35 cases over the weekend and 108 barangays were already affected by AGE.
The case surge continues even as the city closed several refilling stations apart from active case finding, and chlorination of identified deep wells across the city.
The city has a total of 380 water refilling stations, with 358 already inspected. Out of the 99 stations which were found non-compliant, 71 have already been closed with 38 of these shuttered by the Business Permits and Licensing Office and the City Health Office while others voluntarily shut down.
“It is not going down yet. The cases were reported late during the weekend, and it is still the same, unfortunately, it is still there. It is not over yet,” Tang said.
Molo district still has the highest cases with 123, followed by Arevalo with 83 cases; Tanza City Proper (69); Jaro 1 (58); Sto. Rosario City Proper (56); La Paz (46); Lapuz (37); Mandurriao (32), and Jaro II (18).
Children aged 1 to 10 years old remain the most affected age group with 253 cases; followed by 11 to 20 years old (67); 21 to 30 years old (53), and below 1-year-old (46).
By sex and age group aggregate, most of the cases are male children aged 1 to 10 years old (145), followed only by females of the same age (108).
ICHO is already processing the procurement of vaccines against AGE and cholera as the Metro Pacific Iloilo Water (MPIW) also said that they will donate 2,000 doses of vaccines to the city.
ICHO also said that the vaccines will be available for 1-year-old and above, and they will prioritize the areas with high cases of AGE such as Timawa, Ezperanza, Ortiz, among others.
The Department of Health (DOH) has also coordinated with the city government and ICHO as they already gave medicines for AGE and cholera patients as cholera cases in the metro remained at 12.
“We will also try to look for some more vaccines since the city council already approved a fund to be used,” Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas added during a press conference on Monday, Sept 12, 2022.
Treñas said they have distributed 10,000 1-liter water bottles to 30 public elementary schools, 3 public secondary schools, and the Iloilo City Division Office of the Department of Education.
The compliance team was also able to chlorinate 1,534 or 10 percent of the 14,933 deep and tube wells in the city, while 43 were condemned, meaning the public is prohibited from drawing water from these wells.
Fortuna added that they have already put up 61 static tanks in barangays highly affected by AGE and cholera.
They have also met with hotels and restaurants as well as food and beverages providers to advise them to look out within their own facilities.
ICHO also coordinated with the Department of Education (DepEd) in Iloilo City for the inspection of water sources in schools to ensure that all the students are safe as the city is under a state of calamity status.
The city health has also emphasized that all schools, including the private ones, should undergo water quality testing to check if the water they are drinking is potable.
The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has also donated 10,000 liters of bottled water that will be distributed to the schools in the city.
In Iloilo province, the health office reported 36 cases – 20 admitted in hospitals, 10 under home treatment, and 6 recoveries.
Aggregated per town, Tigbauan town reported the most number of cases so far (10), followed by Oton (9), Leganes (5), Pavia and Santa Barbara (3 each), and Anilao, Barotac Nuevo, Dingle, New Lucena, Pototan, and San Dionisio (1 each).
Iloilo Provincial Health Officer Maria Socorro Quiñon said on Monday that they are still investigating the source of the AGE cases, although two of the cases, 1 each in Oton and Pavia towns, have been traced to Iloilo City outbreaks.
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. announced in his regular press conference on Friday that they are now actively monitoring AGE and cholera cases and will be starting to inspect public markets, water sources, and other relevant facilities this week.
The Provincial Health Office has sent water testing kits and chlorine to affected municipalities.
Chromogenic substrate (Colitag) for water testing and Troclosene sodium (Aquatabs) for disinfection of water sources were distributed.
Quiñon said it has been the practice of the province to regularly purchase Colilert for water testing and chlorine granules for disinfection of deep wells.
“We have purchased Colilert, a water testing kit to detect coliform/E.coil for distribution once the supplier delivers it today. The chlorine granules for disinfection are already for post qualification,” the health officer said.
Quiñon said the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (PESU) in coordination with the MESUs and sanitation inspectors of the province and municipalities/city collect results of water testing conducted monthly for water refilling stations.
Ocular inspections were conducted in Brgy. Pantalan, Anilao; Brgy. Liboo, Dingle; Brgy. Guinobatan, Leganes; and Brgy. Cagbang, Oton.
Deep wells from three households in Oton tested positive for coliform and E. coli. Four refilling stations in Leganes came up with negative results while results for the two deep wells are still pending.
Moreover, the PHO conducts advocacy campaigns and information dissemination on AGE prevention and control. Last June 24 and July 8, PHO organized a food- and water-borne disease orientation on rural sanitation inspectors.
Quiñon appealed to the public to refrain from buying food or water from unreliable sources. Frequent hand washing and wearing of face masks should be practiced.
Vendors are also reminded to observe safe food handling by wearing face masks and gloves.