OUTBREAK. Negros Oriental acting Provincial Health Officer Dr. Liland Estacion on Thursday (Feb. 9, 2023) confirmed an outbreak of gastro cases in Barangay Puan, Vallehermoso town. At least 192 people came down with symptoms while five deaths were reported since last week, all from the same village. (PNA file photo)

DUMAGUETE CITY – At least 192 people, including young children, suffered from gastroenteritis symptoms while a fifth death has been reported in Vallehermoso, Negros Oriental, a health official said Thursday.

Acting Provincial Health Office (PHO) chief, Dr. Liland Estacion, said in an interview that the cases are limited only to Barangay Puan, whose water sources are believed to have been contaminated, causing the viral infections.

Describing the situation as already “alarming,” Estacion said immediate interventions were being carried out while waiting for the laboratory results of water samples taken from the same barangay.

“We have distributed jerry cans and water filtration tablets to 100 households or families and have asked residents in Barangay Puan who drink from the tap to first boil the water, and we need to contain this outbreak before more people come down with symptoms,” she said in mixed English and Cebuano.

They have also handed over hydration salts to the villagers.

Estacion said they also took rectal swabs for laboratory testing in Cebu City to determine the presence of cholera.

“Gastroenteritis is just a general term for specific cases like amoebiasis, cholera, and other similar infections, and patients exhibit symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting,” she explained.

Some patients were sent to the hospital while others were recuperating from home, with several testing positive for amoebiasis, she said.

Gastro cases are not transmitted between humans but through contaminated food or water, she added.

Reports said four people died in separate incidents in Vallehermoso last week. They were found to be positive for amoebiasis. (PNA)