Issue of July 8, 2018
Mt. Province

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Lab results of Buguias food poisoning awaited
by Ofelia C. Empian

The 42 children from Natubleng, Buguias, Benguet who allegedly suffered food poisoning after eating strawberry-flavored snack offered to them by a Korean couple are now recovering while results of laboratory tests are being awaited.

Provincial Health Officer Nora Ruiz said the children’s condition have improved since the June 27 alleged food poisoning incident in their school.

“Specimen were taken by my staff and a representative of the Department of Health. We are waiting for the results,” Ruiz said.

She said all the children earlier admitted at Atok District Hospital were discharged. On June 28, one student was admitted at Benguet General Hospital and was discharged on June 30.

On July 3, concerns heightened when 13 of the students were again brought to the Benguet General Hospital after experiencing stomachache, dizziness, and vomiting.

Four were admitted due to acute gastritis and one was due to pneumonia.

As of press time Friday, two were discharged and are now recovering.

Jane Bao-idan, a Grade 5 adviser, said the students would have moments of relief and after a while they would experience the same symptoms of stomachache, dizziness, and overall feeling of weakness, prompting school authorities and parents to bring the children to BeGH.

“They were all crying in pain when they were being brought to BeGH, but after a while they will feel better again,” said Bao-idan, who accompanied the children to BeGH. 

Bao-idan, who was also checked by the doctors in BeGH, recounted that after she cleaned the vomit of the children, she also experienced dizziness and felt weak, prompting her to seek medical attention.

She said the doctor said her dizziness and weakness were caused by stress.

In an interview, some of the kids confined at BeGH said they ate the food while some claim they were made to sniff the snack, which has a “strong pungent smell.” 

Bao-idan said it was not only the snack, called strawberry curls, that were given to the school children by the Korean couple but also other snacks or “chichirya” that were brought in a store in Abatan, Buguias, and not in Natubleng as stated in earlier reports. 

She said the Korean couple, who were said to be missionaries in the area, did not ask for permission to give out the snacks to the students.

“If they really have good intentions, they should have asked for permission first. There are other groups who are conducting gift-giving missions to the children and they properly coordinate with us. This should serve as a lesson to everyone to at least coordinate with the school before distributing food or anything to the school children,” she said.

Some residents in Natubleng, who refused to be identified, also called the public for sobriety regarding the issue as it is still undergoing investigation.

The municipal government through Mayor Ruben Tindaan has ordered for an in-depth investigation of the incident with the help of the Buguias Municipal Police Station.

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