The number of patients coming down with diarrhea in what is already described as an “outbreak” among the Region 8 official delegates to the Palarong Pambansa 2013 in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, has risen to 169, a doctor accompanying the delegation said.
Dr. Jennifer Picardal said the latest cases as of 4:45 p.m. Saturday involved elementary and secondary athletes and coaches, with 11 hospital admissions due to the severity of symptoms.
Five coaches were among the newest cases recorded, she said.
All others were being administered medication for diarrhea, fever, headaches and vomiting, she added.
Picardal said the outbreak started April 17, or three days after the delegation arrived in Dumaguete City, ahead of the Palarong Pambansa that kicked off yesterday.
The cases varied throughout the week since the arrival of the delegation, with still no confirmed cause or origin of the outbreak, Picardal added.
Initially, the medical team of the Region 8 delegation had suspected that it could be contaminated water being supplied by an undisclosed supplier to the official caterer of the Western Visayas regional athletic delegation, Picardal said.
She said that during the first three days of their stay at the Colegio de Sta. Catalina de Alejandria where they are billeted, it was the Siaton West District of the Department of Education that supplied them with water until the official caterer arrived and took over, starting April 17.
Other possible causes, like food intake outside of the billeting area, are being considered, she said.
Preventive measures are now being undertaken to prevent a further rise in the number of medical cases among the Region 8 delegates, Picardal said.
Water samples have been submitted for laboratory testing but Picardal said the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital informed them it would take at least three days to get the results.
Also, the caterer has been asked to resume getting their water supply from the Siaton West District of Siaton.
Picardal admitted the “outbreak” of possible amoebiasis, or gastro-intestinal cases, would have an impact on the performance of the athletes and coaches in the Palaro.
She said that unless given the go signal by the medical team, they will not allow the affected athletes to play today.
Picardal also said six cases of amoebiasis had been recorded from Region 10 delegates, but this occurred when the delegation was still in transit to Dumaguete City last week.
Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo has ordered an immediate and thorough investigation to determine the cause of the sickness, and has tasked those in charge at the COSCA billeting area to check on the source of water, pipes, food and sanitation.
He said he also wanted to check on how the food was prepared to ensure that the incident will not happen again. He said he is hoping the athletes will be back in good condition before the start of the games.
Around 12,000 athletes from all over the country are in Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental for the sporting event, that will run until April 27.*JFP/MA
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