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DoH team probes suspected anthrax deaths in Cagayan

Posted on: March 4, 2010

DoH team probes suspected anthrax deaths in Cagayan

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:37:00 03/03/2010

Filed Under: Food, Health, Diseases

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health (DoH) has dispatched a team to investigate suspected anthrax deaths in Cagayan Valley.

“We dispatched a team from DoH to go to Region I and investigate the cause of this anthrax reports,” said Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, program manager, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases department at the DoH.

“Right now, they are starting their surveillance and we expect to get an initial report within this week to confirm whether or not it is anthrax,” he said.

The DoH sent a team of investigators following reports of two deaths and 150 others who were hospitalized in Nueva Vizcaya province after eating water buffalo meat suspected of carrying the anthrax virus.

Lee Suy said a laboratory test was needed to confirm if bacillus anthracis, the pathogen that causes anthrax, could be found in the samples.

“The initial field reports suspect the cause of the deaths and illness is anthrax but we need to confirm this first,” said Lee Suy.

The team consisting of officials from the National Epidemiology Center (NEC) will take swab samples and conduct other laboratory tests such as culture or serology of fluids or serum from the patient, said Dr. Vito Roque, surveillance officer of NEC.

Anthrax is a disease transmitted from animal-to-human contact and there is no known case of human-to-human transmission, he said.

“Anthrax can be acquired when you have a direct exposure with the infected animal, either by ingestion of meat, or inhalation of the bacteria spores from the animal’s lesions or open wounds,” said Roque.

Lee Suy urged the public to make sure that they buy meat from safe dealers, such as those with daily seals and certification from the National Meat Inspection Service.

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