By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
IMUS, Cavite – Classes in a private school here were suspended on Thursday after over 40 students were rushed to the hospital for showing symptoms of suspected food poisoning.
A total of 42 students of Imus Institute of Science and Technology (IIST) – Dimasalang Campus fell ill and were brought to the Emergency Room (ER) of the Our Lady of the Pillar Medical Center (OLPMC) after complaining of abdominal pains and vomiting.
IIST Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Loida Sta Maria said that the school is currently investigating the incident. “We’re conducting the investigation kung ano talaga yung nangyari pero yung first move is to bring them to the hospital with their parents,” she said. “We personally brought them to the hospital and we looked at the situation of those who are confined and talked to their parents,” she added.
Sta Maria said classes in IIST have been suspended until Friday, July 12. “We suspended the classes because there will be no food because the stalls and canteens are closed until further notice,” she said. Classes are expected to resume on July 15, Monday.
Sta Maria said that the IIST is currently conducting an investigation regarding the suspected food poisoning. “Rest assured that we are doing our best to really solve this problem and one of these days, we are going to come up with a report of what really happened,” she added.
Students started to come to the OLPMC’s ER for consultation since Wednesday due to stomach ache and vomiting.
OLPMC President Dr. Gima Aniceto said that as of 5 p.m. of July 10, a total of 35 patients came in but were discharged soon after. “They were considered as outpatients only,” she explained.
Aniceto noted that seven patients were confined and are still “under observation.” She explained that the initial findings show that the patients suffer from acute gastroenteritis which means that the patients must have “ingested something” that is contaminated. “Pwede itong manggaling sa iba’t-ibang causes like bacteria, virus, or sa pagkain,” she says. “For food poisoning, titingnan muna naming yung circumstances, mag-i-investigate muna kami,” she added.
Aniceto said that food poisoning is not officially ruled out as the cause of the hospitalization of the IIST students but it remains a possibility. This is because almost all of them complained of “same symptoms” such as abdominal pains and vomiting – which are common signs of food poisoning. “Most of the time, kapag galing sila [patients] sa iisang lugar at pare-pareho ng pinanggalingan ng pagkain nila, pwede natin ito i-consider,” she added.
Aside from schools, Aniceto reminded that it is the responsibility of food establishments to ensure that the food is prepared and handle properly. “Malaking bagay sa mga tao na maging secured na malinis ang kinakain nila,” she added.
Students are enjoined to bring their own food or “baon” to school. Aniceto also asked parents, teachers, and school administrators to immediately bring children and students to the hospital should they show symptoms of suspected food poisoning. “This is to immediately assess their condition and be provided with necessary treatment such as hydration,” she said.