BACOLOD CITY – Some 80 residents in three villages in Sagay City, Negros Occidental were rushed to two hospitals when they fell ill after eating a dessert soup with “intoxicating yam” on Friday.
Wally Afuang, head of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Saturday that their rescue team ferried 61 patients while the rest were assisted by barangay personnel.
The CDRRMO responded to the call for assistance on Friday noon and brought affected residents of barangays Lopez Jaena, Rizal, and Poblacion 2 to the Alfredo E. Marañon Sr. Memorial District Hospital (AEMSMDH) and the Lopez District Farmers Hospital, Inc. (LODIFHI).
The patients complained of stomach pain and nausea and were also vomiting.
As a Good Friday tradition, residents would usually cook “linugaw” or “binignit” made of sticky rice with coconut milk, sago pearls, sweet potato, saba banana, and other ingredients, such as ube or purple yam.
The patients ate the dish with a root crop locally known as “kayos” or “intoxicating yam” with the scientific name Dioscorea hispida.
Afuang said that on Thursday, a resident harvested and shared it with relatives to be used as an ingredient.
On Friday, they cooked and served the “linugaw” and afterward, those who ate it fell ill.
Dr. Cyrille Adraneda, the attending physician at the AEMSMDH, said they treated 52 admitted patients, 22 of them were adults and 30 were children.
Of the number, 48 were set for discharge on Saturday.
The remaining patients, including those brought to LODIFHI, were already sent home.
Adraneda said “kayos” contains cyanide, according to the University of the Philippines -Philippine General Hospital National Poison Management and Control Center.
Cyanide is a natural toxin found in some food plants. Toxic substances, when not processed properly, can bring harm to human health and cause food poisoning.
Mayor Alfredo Marañon III said the hospitalization and medical needs of patients admitted to the district hospital are free and they would be given food packs after their discharge.
He said the city government also paid the bills of patients brought to the LODIFHI emergency room.
Marañon reminded his constituents to be careful of what they eat to avoid similar incidents. (PNA)