A severe Cholera outbreak has gripped the African nation of Yemen. It is believed to be the worst with an estimated 351,045 suspected cases recorded, including 1,790 deaths between April 27 and July 16.

Seven thousand kilometres away from Yemen, a small town in southern Philippines with population of 34,790 declared a Cholera epidemic on July 8, a day after a rising number of diarrhoea cases was reported.

A far cry from the Yemen numbers, but 557 suspected cases recorded from June 1 to July 17 is one too many for a fourth class municipality. Two deaths arising from severe dehydration was likewise reported.

The town is Medina in the province of Misamis Oriental. A clustering of suspected cholera cases was recorded in 17 of its 19 barangays (villages).

The Department of Health was quick to respond with an order to undertake vaccination activity to protect residents from the area, particularly those exposed to patients with suspected cholera.

Fifty percent of the cases were female. Ages of those infected ranged from 6 months to 86 years, with a median of 21 years. Aside from diarrhoea, patients also presented other signs and symptoms that included abdominal pain (160 cases – 29 percent); vomiting (157 – 28 percent), body malaise (99 – 18 percent); and anorexia (75 – 13 percent).

Meanwhile, 19 suspected Cholera cases tested positive for the bacteria Vibrio cholerae.

Cholera is an acute enteric infection caused by ingestion of water or food contaminated with the bacteria and is primarily associated with areas lacking in proper sanitation, according to the World Health Organization.

Contamination may have started because of the old, corroded water pipes that are often submerged in water due to high tide, and from waters that irrigate a rice field. A hydrogeology expert noted if pipelines are situated near the sea where water is salty, it may have developed leaks that can accelerate pipe rusting.

Water samples have been sent to Cagayan de Oro for testing. Aside from investigating the case, the DOH regional office has augmented logistics (IV fluids, medicines, and folding beds) in hospitals, and distributed Waterine and Aquatabs to RHU.

Further, DOH provided the DPD Kit used by MERWASCO for measurement of chlorine levels and facilitated testing of water samples at a DOH-accredited facility

Health Chief Paulyn Ubial has instructed the Family Health Office of the National Disease Prevention and Control Bureau of DoH to coordinate with the region in the immediate conduct of a vaccination activity against Cholera in the affected area.

“I would like to inform everyone, particularly those living in the affected region, that the overall well-being and safety of all Filipinos remain the top priority of the health department. Rest assured that DOH is working to arrest this ongoing problem of rising incidence of Cholera,” she declared. MIMS

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