On June 20, the province of Catanduanes was placed under a state of calamity because the number of diarrhea cases increased significantly particularly in the municipality of Virac. This sudden increase of reported cases coincided with the increase in cholera suspects in the area. The suspected source of contamination was the improvised spring located along Sto. Domingo River and used by affected communities as their source of drinking water near the quarry site. Also, 12 water sources were positive from contamination- eight samples for E. Coli, two for Aeromonas, and two from vibrio cholera.
From January to June 19, 2012, diarrhea cases in Catanduanes reached 1,730 with 14 validated deaths. Of the 250 samples taken from residents, 31 tested positive for vibrio cholera. All 11 municipalities of Catanduanes were affected with Virac (809), San Andres (447), and San Miguel (87) having the most number of cases.
Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona and Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua spearheaded the distribution of potable water to affected barangays in Virac in order to reduce diarrhea cases in the area.The Department of Health Center for Health Development in Bicol also worked with the local government to educate the people on proper hand washing and other measures to prevent further spread of diarrheal diseases, including cholera.
Meanwhile, on July 2, the Philippines became the first country in Southeast Asia to implement the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) to introduce the life-saving rotavirus vaccines in the expanded programme on immunization. No less than President Benigno S. Aquino III launched the giving out of rotavirus vaccines, starting with 700,000 infants from 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 months living in the poorest communities which have the highest child morbidity and mortality rates from diarrheal diseases.
Rotavirus is a virus that infects the bowels. According to WHO statistics, rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea in infants and children resulting in deaths of about 600,000 children and over two million hospitalizations worldwide each year.