Health chief denies existence of flesh-eating bacteria

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HEALTH Secretary Enrique Ona on Tuesday denied reports of an alleged flesh-eating bacteria that is now gripping the province of Pangasinan.

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There is no “flesh-eating bacteria,” Ona said amidst report of two suspected cases reported in the province. “There is absolutely no reason for the public to panic,” he added.

He said the two reported cases are different.

One involved a 21-year-old female from Santa Barbara who was being treated for leprosy but was being “assessed on current drug reaction and for work-up for tuberculosis,” that may be needing debridement (the medical removal of dead, damaged or infected tissue to improve the healing potential of the remaining healthy tissue.

Another was a confirmed case of severe psoriasis, a chronic skin disease characterized by red patches covered with white scales, in the town of Villasis.

In an online report, Dr. Anna de Guzman, provincial health officer of Pangasinan, denied reports that both cases were that of the so-called necrotizing fasciitis, a “serious bacterial infection that spreads rapidly and destroys the body’s soft tissue,” as described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States.

She blamed the media for “exaggerate[ing]to make the news sensational,” adding that it “want[ed]to connect it to the prophecy.”

A television report on Monday night said “some people had the mysterious disease in Pangasinan,” adding that “the disease eats up someone’s skin and flesh.” The report featured two suspected cases in Santa Barbara and Villasis with hidden identities.

She was referring to a prediction by a self-professed prophet named Sadhu Sundar Selveraj that “a grievous disease will spread all over the world that will consume the flesh of men; all their upper skin will begin to decay, it will pierce through your bones,” which, he claimed the Lord said, would start “in a place called Pangasinan.”

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