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Pangasinan health office: No cases of flesh-eating disease

(Updated 6:59 p.m.) The Provincial health office of Pangasinan debunked on Tuesday rumors of a mysterious flesh-eating disease said to be spreading in the province.

According to a report on GMA's "News TV Live" Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Maria Anna Theresa de Guzman said at a press conference in Lingayen that the reported victims of the alleged flesh-eating disease were a girl with leprosy and a 21-year-old male suffering from psoriasis.

“Hindi po nakakahawa itong dalawang kaso na ating sinuri ngayon. So wala pong nakakahawang sakit sa probinsiya ng Pangasinan,” De Guzman said.

The girl, who lives in the municipality of Sta. Barbara, was earlier reported by De Guzman to have leprosy and to have suffered a drug reaction which triggered the disease to resurface.

However, a specialist who has treated the girl said that she is not suffering from leprosy but from another skin disease, pyoderma gangrenosum. She also said that the girl is not suffering from a drug reaction, as earlier reported by the provincial health office.

Read update: Skin disease case in Pangasinan not leprosy, says doc

The man, who lives in the municipality of Villasis, has severe psoriasis and an accompanying ailment, psoriatic arthritis, which prevents him from walking.

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that causes red patches covered with white scales to appear on the sufferer's skin, the Department of Health said.

“Ang psoriasis is genetic. So it's an auto immune [disease]. May diperensiya po tayo sa immune system at sa genes natin [kapag ganoon],” De Guzman said.

She said the victim's psoriasis was triggered due to various factors including weather changes and stress.

“Siya po ay [disease] carrier noong bata pa siya,” she said.

Both have been brought to the Pangasinan provincial hospital in San Carlos City for further treatment.


In a news release on Tuesday, the Department of Health labeled the incident in Pangasinan as a “hoax” and said there are no reported cases of flesh-eating disease in the Philippines.

“Absolutely no reason for the public to panic,” said Health Secretary Enrique Ona.

Flesh-eating disease, or necrotizing fasciitis, is a rare condition where an infection of the fascial planes in connective tissues spreads rapidly and results in tissue death or necrosis. It “is not usually contagious,” unless uninfected people physically come into contact with patients with the disease.

But necrotizing fasciitis is not the diagnosis for either case in Pangasinan.

“There are a lot of diseases that may manifest through changes in the skin. It is good to consult our doctors or go to the nearest barangay health unit when we need medical advice and treatment. Let us avail of the free healthcare service in our health facilities,” said Ona.

De Guzman also appealed to the media to check the validity of news reports before releasing to the public, especially public health related cases.

“Kami po ay umaapila sa mga kasamahan natin sa media na sana tayo ay maging mas responsable sa ating inilalabas [na balita],” she said. — Andrei Medina and Kim Luces/BM, GMA News