Traces of contaminants found in Tuburan spring water

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

CEBU CITY -- Traces of fecal coliform were found in an improvised spring, which was considered a probable source of the typhoid infection that recently hit a barangay in Tuburan.

Typhoid cases in the town lessened from 19 to 18, a health official revealed on Sunday.

But doctors and health providers from the Department of Health (DOH)-Central Visayas will be returning to the northwestern town for further monitoring as they believe that there are suspected cases that might surface.


Rennan Cimafranca, head of the DOH-Central Visayas’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (Resu), confirmed Sunday that traces of fecal coliform were found in a spring in Sitio Birhen sa Regla, Barangay Montealegre, where the first cases of typhoid first cropped up.

Their team collected water samples from the spring.

Water source in Tuburan possible sours of typhoid infection
WATER SOURCE.  A resident of Barangay Montealegre in Turuban town carries a jug of drinking water she took from a nearby spring. Health authorities are alarmed by reports on the number of typhoid cases recently confirmed in the town. (Sun.Star Cebu/Allan Cuizon)


Cimafranca added that aside from their findings, the municipal health office in Tuburan also told them that residents of the area were earlier warned after they initially found traces of fecal matter in the spring water months before.

But the residents reportedly ignored the municipal health office’s recommendations, Cimafranca said.

He revealed that the improvised spring, contained in a box-type structure, was vulnerable to outside exposure due to its physical set-up.

“Dali gyud siya ma-contaminate kay common washing and drinking area man gud siya sa mga residente. Box-type pa gyud ni siya na spring, mao nang susceptible siya sa contamination dili pareha sa poso ug deep well nga dili kaayo masudlan (The spring easily gets contaminated because it’s a common area for residents),” Cimafranca said.

After the incident, he instructed the barangay officials to encourage their residents to boil and purify their water so it could be safe to drink.


The DOH-Central Visayas personnel also provided them with chlorine granules that they can use to clean the water before use.

The number of admitted patients in the town has slowly lessened following quick intervention of the DOH and the Municipal Government.

But Cimafranca said that while the admissions at the Tuburan Municipal Hospital have not increased, it doesn’t mean that their work stops there.

He said he and other DOH-Central Visayas personnel will return to Barangay Montealegre to verify some suspected cases that had not availed themselves of hospital admission.

But Cimafranca refused to confirm that a typhoid epidemic had occurred in the village as they are still in the process of verifying more cases.

They will also conduct talks with the sitio’s more than 200 villagers and educate them to make sure their drinking water is safe for use.

Typhoid fever is caused by the salmonella enteric bacteria. Its symptoms include fever, chills, abdominal pains, nausea, diarrhea or constipation and headache.

While it is easily treated, typhoid fever can sometimes be fatal if symptoms are prolonged.


Most of the patients confined at the Tuburan District Hospital were allowed to go home after they regained strength and medical findings showed that they were negative of typhoid fever.

As to the district hospital’s record, only three out of the 19 patients confined were left at the health facility.

As of 4 p.m., Shalimar Lucmayon, nurse-on-duty, said patients left confined were siblings aged nine and 16 and a 22-year-old female.

Lucmayon said the three patients are negative of typhoid fever, but were still monitored.

The Tuburan District Hospital does not immediately release a patient once his or her fever is gone.

The patients are monitored first for 24 hours before they are allowed to go home.

Earlier, four residents from Barangay Montealegre, Tuburan were tested positive for typhoid fever.

Renan Cimafranca, regional epidemiologist of the Regional Epidemiological Surveillance Unit, said three of the confirmed victims of typhoid fever are minors, ages 4, 11 and 13, while one is an adult.

Lucmayon said the four typhoid victims were not brought to the hospital for medical personnel went to the area and attended them.

In a separate interview, Tuburan Mayor Democrito Diamante said the municipality will shoulder all the hospital bills of the patients.

He said the case of having fever in Sitio Birhen sa Regla in Montealegre is now minimal unlike the previous days.

Earlier, Diamante said the residents’ water source is a deep well.

After the town experienced a typhoid fever outbreak last year, they conducted monthly tests on the water source and found the deep well contaminated, said Diamante.

The mayor said the patients and the residents were given medicine, rice, noodles, canned goods, bottled water and chlorine.

Diamante said they were also given P500 each as an allowance. (FMG/JKV/Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 10, 2014.

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