ZAMBOANGA, Philippines – A mysterious infection in Zamboanga del Norte has left 4 people dead and 16 others hospitalized.
The hospitalized victims, all natives of Barangay Mantebo, Sibuco town in Zamboanga del Norte, complained of pain and numbness in the lower extremities.
One of the patients Pantera Nadjal said it was in May this year when she started feeling numbness and a tingling sensation in her feet and legs.
Fifteen other villagers experienced the same and are now at the Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC).
"Parang hangin dito sa paa nagsimula tapos umakyat hanggang sa tiyan," Nadjal said.
Dr. Saibzur Edding, hospital chief in Sibuco, other residents of Mantebo have also been admitted in the municipal hospital.
Edding expressed doubt that the illness could be due to mining or fishing. He said there is no mining activity in or near Mantebo. Fishermen also do not use dynamite or cyanide when fishing.
Dr. Maribel Felisario, Information Officer of the ZCMC, said they will be sending samples of the patients' urine and blood to DOH-Manila for testing.
They have also gathered samples from the environment, including water, samples of fish and seaweeds that are reportedly part of the patients' diet.
Meanwhile, Dr. Felisario said they have encountered similar cases in the past, but "this one is different since the patients come from one area."