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DoH allays fears of disease in handling decomposing bodies

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 14:14:00 06/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DoH) has allayed fears over the spread of disease from handling decomposing bodies, following reports that remains of alleged passengers and crew of the capsized M/V Princess of the Stars were buried in mass graves.

At the same time, the DoH sent 500 body bags for search teams involved in scouring the ferry and surrounding coastal provinces where several bodies had drifted, said physician Eric Tayag, chief of the National Epidemiology Center.

Asked what disease could be contracted from handling dead bodies,
Tayag said: “Practically nothing, because when we die, most of the
[disease-causing] organisms die with us.”

“There is no risk if they smell or if they come accidentally in contact with [the bodies],” Tayag told a news conference hosted by the National Disaster Coordinating Council in Camp Aguinaldo.

Nonetheless, Tayag advised rescuers to wear protective equipment such as gloves to guard against infection, which was more likely when open wounds or skin abrasions come in contact with human remains.

He also advised rescuers to wear face masks to block off the foul odor from the decomposing bodies.

Tayag said those buried in mass graves would be exhumed later for proper identification.

The M/V Princess of the Stars, carrying 862 passengers and crew, capsized in rough waters off Sibuyan Island in Romblon province amid the onslaught of typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) last Saturday.

The Coast Guard has confirmed 48 survivors and 70 casualties, three of which were recovered from the ship and the rest from surrounding coastal provinces.

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-06-26T07:45:57+00:00UTC06bUTCThu, 26 Jun 2008 07:45:57 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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