MANILA (UPDATE) - One died while 32 others were brought to the hospital due to diarrhea in Jose Abad Santos town, Davao Occidental, its mayor said Sunday.
The fatality was a 68-year-old man who may have had complications while on the 2-hour journey to the district hospital, said mayor Jason Joyce. The patients began experiencing symptoms on Dec. 31, he said.
Authorities are looking at the village's water source as the cause of diarrhea.
"'Yung lugar po kasi namin is considered as geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. Wala pong water district sa buong locality. Either sa poso po or direct source sa spring or rivers (ang water source)," Joyce told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(Our area is considered as geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. There's no water district in the whole locality. Water either comes from a deep-well, spring, or rivers.)
"May minsanan na rin po na ganitong pangyayari sa iba't ibang barangay natin dahil nga po open po ang water source natin at exposed siya sa mga bacteria."
(This has happened in different villages as we have open water source and it's exposed to bacteria.)
The Department of Health-Davao confirmed the outbreak in the said town and said 34 patients were admitted to the Tomas Lachica District Hospital, including the fatality.
Twenty-five patients are being "monitored closely," according to Municipal Health Officer Dr. Amparo Lachica.
"If anyone is experiencing three or more loose or liquid stools per day, this must be reported immediately to the nearest facility for immediate health interventions," the DOH said in a statement.
The mayor said the fatality could not have died from COVID-19 as the town currently has zero active infections.
"Hindi po COVID kasi sa ngayon po, zero kami sa active cases ng COVID at medyo strict po tayo sa ating implementation ng health protocols," he said.
(It's not COVID as we have zero active cases and we're strict in implementing health protocols.)
The DOH regional office said the cause of death of the 68-year-old man is "still under investigation."
It added that it has provided essential commodities such as medicines and intravenous fluids to the district hospital, and water storage and chlorine granules to the affected barangay.
"DOH would like to reiterate to the public once again the importance of safe-drinking water, use of improved sanitation and hand washing with soap (to) reduce the risk of diarrhea," it said.
The national government has a program that distributes potable water to different villages, according to the mayor.
"Dahan-dahan po ina-address natin ito sa pagbibigay ng safe na water source sa kanila," Joyce said.
(We are addressing this by giving safe water source to the public.)
"'Yun din po ina-advise namin, bago po gamitin ang tubig, pakuluan natin para mas ligtas po."
(We also advise them to boil water before consuming it.)