QUITO – More than 200 people got sick from drinking water contaminated with waste from sewers in the Ecuadorian highland town of Peguche, the press said Tuesday.
According to the Web site of the daily El Comercio, medical centers in the area began to receive patients Monday night.
“People in the worst condition were sent to San Luis Hospital, the rest were treated at an auxiliary center, at home or in a van,” Gonzalo Jaramillo, health director of Imbabura province, said.
Provincial Gov. Luis Guerra suspended indefinitely the supply through water pipes until the cause of the sickness is determined.
“Many are suffering from gastroenteritis. They have nausea, vomiting, abdominal colic, headaches, dehydration and feel generally unwell. I treated close to 80 patients and we gave them all rehydration salts, antibiotics and analgesics free of charge,” Dr. Consuelo Quimbo said.
“Apparently the change of pipes in the El Obraje neighborhood caused a leakage of sewage water that affected the natural sources of supply for the town. The case is under investigation and the emergency is under control,” Gov. Guerra said.
Locals complained about the lack of drinking water.
“We get water piped in from the La Magdalena stream. The Water Commission supplies us and we pay by the month. In spite of our attempts to make the liquid drinkable, the politicians never pay any attention to us,” resident Luis Teran said.
He said that they have sought aid from the Otavalo city hall, “because no one knows how many people have been infected.”
Health technicians are doing an analysis of the water in Peguche to determine the kind of bacteria that contaminated the water supply. EFE