Stay clean and be free of ‘norovirus’ - DOH
CEBU – Health Secretary Janette Garin has urged citizens to maintain cleanliness and good hygiene following the outbreak of the highlycontagious norovirus in Zamboanga City in Mindanao that had already killed at least 4 people and affected over 1,000 others in just several weeks.
Garin said laboratory test results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine revealed that the diarrhea outbreak in Zamboanga was caused by a viral infection called norovirus.
This was earlier confirmed by Zamboanga City Health Officer Dr. Rodel Agbulos, who said the norovirus is highly contagious and can be obtained from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces.
“The virus causes stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed or acute gastroenteritis, and leads one to experience stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea. The best way to help prevent norovirus is to practice proper hand washing and general cleanliness,” he said.
Agbulos said many of the patients were admitted in different hospitals due to acute gastroenteritis. Three of those who died recently were children and one was a prisoner, who suffered from severe dehydration.
Zamboanga Mayor Beng Climaco confirmed the outbreak of gastroenteritis.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus illness. Norovirus infection cannot be treated with antibiotics because it is a viral infection. The breakout of the virus in Zamboanga coincided with the acute water shortage there due to the extreme weather phenomenon called El Nino.
Zamboanga CityWater District has been rationing water every other day – for only 5 hours – for the past 2 months, citing the low level of water in its dam. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration warned the public last year of the upcoming severe dry spell which could last until June.