DUMAGUETE CITY - The number of individuals who were reported over the weekend to have been treated for gastrointestinal problems secondary to suspected food poisoning due to "contaminated" milk in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental has climbed to 225.
This, after some 155 more victims were reported after the initial 70 last Friday.
Assistant Provincial Health Officer Dr. Liland Estacion told the Philippine News Agency on Monday that this was based on an incident report received by her office on the supposed food poisoning incident last Thursday evening that mostly downed grade school pupils.
"I already have an initial incident report that showed that not only the learners who were recipients of the milk distributed by the Department of Education (DepEd) had come down with the symptoms but also adults who apparently were family members and had also consumed the same milk," she said in mixed English and Cebuano.
Estacion clarified that the concern of the Provincial Health Office (PHO) is limited to the health and safety of the people while the DepEd is the primary agency to discuss the circumstances surrounding the milk "contamination" considering that it was given to the pupils as part of its feeding program.
Last Friday, reports reaching the PHO said many of the victims were admitted to the Bayawan District Hospital while others were treated for mild symptoms at a health facility in Sta. Catalina.
However, further investigation by PHO personnel during the weekend revealed that the number of people who exhibited symptoms like nausea and vomiting had shot up after having consumed milk, which the learners most likely brought home with them, Estacion said.
Most of those affected were Grade I and Grade II learners, she noted.
Estacion said the majority if not all of those admitted have already returned home.
The DepEd-Negros Oriental Schools Division has promised to investigate the food poisoning incident and also come up with a report.
The PHO has sent samples of the "contaminated" milk and stool specimens for laboratory testing at a hospital in Cebu City, Estacion said. (PNA)