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Pesticides linked to seven deaths in Philippines

Officials check if upstream water supplies led to deaths in tribal area

Pesticides linked to seven deaths in Philippines

A villager collects drinking water from a river in a remote village of Alamada town. (Photo by Keith Bacongco)

Seven people have died and about a hundred others have been hospitalized after an outbreak of diarrhea in the remote tribal area of Alamada in North Cotabato province that some say may be linked to toxic pesticide use.

Provincial health officer Dr Eva Rabaya told that at least 70 patients remain in hospital and that new cases have been increasing as of Tuesday morning.

Melissa Bagsican, information officer of Alamada town, said the outbreak was affecting the villages of Dado, Lower Dado, Kalamansi and Pigcawaran, near the town’s watershed.

She added that authorities are still trying to verify reports that the outbreak may be linked to the excessive use of herbicides on nearby corn farms.

“Farmers have recently applied herbicide on their cornfields upstream, and the rains washed it down to the water system and rivers,” she said.

Bagsican said health officials have been warning farmers against the improper use of pesticides and herbicides that can produce illness such as chronic diarrhea and skin infections.

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