TACLOBAN CITY-Two children died in Pagsanghan town in Samar province on Sunday (Oct.15) after eating ‘tahong’ or green mussels.

However, the rural health unit (RHU) said that while they are not ruling out that the deaths of the nine-year-old girl and her six-year-old brother could be due to red tide toxin, they are not confirming it yet.

Roxanne Ganancias, RHU staff, said that they are still waiting for the results of the diagnosis of the other family members of the victims, all residents of Barangay Canlapwas, who also ate tahong.

“While we are not ruling out the possibility that the deaths of the siblings could be due to red tide toxin, we classify it as a suspected red tide case as we are still waiting for the result of the diagnosis of the other members of the family,” she said in a phone interview.
Ganancias declined to identify the victims except by giving their ages.

According to her, the family, consisting of seven individuals, ate tahong during their lunch on that day.

The RHU staff said that based on their investigation, the mother of the victims bought the tahong from a vendor and put them in an open area exposed to sunlight before her 12-year-old daughter cooked them for their lunch.

But at around 2 pm, the nine-year-old girl experienced vomiting, facial numbness, abdominal cramps, and body aches.

She was brought to the RHU at 4:15 pm but died at 4:20 pm, Ganancias said.
Her six-year-old brother, at around 4 pm, also experienced similar symptoms and was brought to a nearby district hospital in Gandara town, also in Samar, where he died.

The rest of the family, consisting of a 70-year grandmother of the victims and their parents, both 30, and their other siblings, 12, and four years old, were brought to the Eastern Visayas Medical Center (EVMC) in Tacloban City.

Ganancias said that considering of the incident Mayor Sed Hendrix Tan appealed to his people to refrain from eating green mussels or if they could not avoid, make sure that the mussels are thoroughly clean and well-cook.

Early this month, the regional office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has announced of red tide bloom in the waters of Irong-Irong Bay and in the coastal waters of Calbayog City, all in Samar province, and Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar. (JOEY A. GABIETA)