CCDRRMO advises food poisoning patients not to self-medicate
RESIDENTS of Barangay Sirao in Cebu City who were hit by food poisoning on Monday still came in trickles at the city-run hospital in Barangay Guba yesterday even as most of the over 200 persons who were hospitalized after eating spaghetti and chicken had been sent home.
The final count of affected residents from Sirao’s Sitio Tawagan II has been placed at 233, said Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CCDRRMO) head Nagiel Bañacia.
Bañacia said those who sought treatment yesterday took medicines that worsened their condition. Aside from experiencing diarrhea and severe dehydration, the victims also had fever.
“They took loperamide. According to Dr. Anton Oliver Reposar III, the assistant medical director of Cebu City Medical Center, who was also there in Guba, the toxin in their stomach developed (after taking loperamide),” Bañacia said.
He also urged other affected residents who opted to self-medicate to just visit the hospital. Some of the patients were now confined at the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC), Guba Community Hospital and a private hospital in Cebu City.
“Stop taking medicines like loperamide. Just go to the hospital. They (doctors) will just hydrate you,” he said.
Bañacia added that 62 patients remained under observation while 138 were already discharged from the hospitals.
The food was given during a Christmas outreach program that was organized by Maria Elena Chua, the owner of a flower farm in Sirao. Around 300 food packs were distributed in the activity.
Dr. Alma Corpin of the Cebu Health Department (CHD) said samples of the food that was believed to have caused the poisoning was sent to the Department of Science and Technology for examination.
“We will see if there is e-coli or salmonella. No result yet,” she said.
E-coli is a type of bacteria that is normally found in intestines which can cause infection and severe symptoms like diarrhea, while salmonella is a group of bacteria that can usually cause abdominal pains.
Corpin suspected that the spaghetti was the cause of the incident. “The spaghetti is moist, the chicken is dry. The bacteria will spread faster if it is moist,” she said.
The organizer of the activity declined to name the person who cooked the food. But according to Corpin, a family friend of the Chuas was the food handler in the activity.
“They (Chuas) also took responsibility. They bought medicines for the patients,” she said.
In a text message, Corpin said she has yet to get the report on the health inspection but she was told that initially, there was no problem in the kitchen.
In a press conference yesterday, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said the incident of food poisoning in Sirao serves as a warning to the public.
He said people should be keen in choosing a food handler or a caterer.
“This is one of the saddest stories that I have heard that I have experienced as a mayor of Cebu. Out of the charity of their hearts, they wanted to help the people and this accident happens when the spaghetti was spoiled. To the horror of everyone, many people fell ill,” he said.
Yesterday morning, Osmeña said he met with the Chuas and assured them they would not be faulted for the incident.
“I told them, ‘Don’t feel bad, it is not your fault.’ As a matter of fact, what they did (giving a thanksgiving party for the community) is very honorable.
There are very few people who will do that,” Osmeña said.
The mayor said he will direct the CHD to conduct a seminar for all caterers on the safety of food handling but would not go after the people who prepared the food for the Sirao party, as he believed they just did not know how to handle properly the food they prepared. He also commended the
City Hall staff, CHD, CCMC and the disaster group for working as one to respond to the incident.
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