The outbreak of hepatitis A cases in Kabugao, Apayao province has been declared under control by the Department of Health with no death reported as of last week, a senior health official said Wednesday.
Amelita Pangilinan, chief of the Local Health Support Division of the Department of Health, confirmed that the reported 23 cases of hepatitis A from June 22 to Sept. 3 affected mostly students.
“Most of the cases were high school students from Lourdes High School in Poblacion, Kabugao,” she said.
Pangilinan said the follow-up monitoring conducted by the Kabugao Rural Health Unit showed some of those tested positive with hepatitis A were food handlers in the school canteen of Lourdes High School, prompting authorities to momentarily shut down the operation of the establishment.
DOH has reported the mode of transmission of hepatitis A is through ingestion of food contaminated with human waste and urine of persons who have the same illness.
Pangilinan added health officials immediately informed concerned local chief executives, including Apayao Gov. Elias Bulut Jr., to order agencies to take precautionary measures to avoid a repeat of the incident in other areas in the province.
Some local chief executives vowed to be strict in the issuance of permits to establishments offering foods to students, according to reports reaching the DOH.
The Kabugao RHU also conducted information and education campaign on safe food handling in various schools while it conducted inspection of food handler’s health certificate and health education on food safety.
The Apayao Provincial Health Office likewise has been providing technical assistance to the Kabugao RHU while it also provided logistics like medicines and IEC materials.
Prevention and control of hepatitis A, according to the DOH, include washing of hands after using the toilet, before preparing food and before eating; dispose human waste properly; thoroughly cook oysters, clams, and other shellfish for four minutes or steam for one minute and 30 seconds; and practice safe handling and storage of food and water.