Polio re-emerges in PH after 19 years

  • A polio case was detected once again in the Philippines, 2019 after the World Health Organization declared the country polio-free.
  • The Department of Health said that it is already working to detect other cases of polio and acute flaccid paralysis in the country after samples of poliovirus were detected from sewage in Manila and Davao waterways.
  • Parents are advised to have their children vaccinated and practice good hygiene to prevent infection, as the disease cannot be cured.

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed Thursday that polio is re-emerging in the Philippines, 19 years after the country was declared polio-free by the World Health Organization.

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Photo from Gregorio Dantes Jr/Pacific Press

Polio, an infectious disease which spreads rapidly, is known for causing paralysis and can be fatal on rare occasions. Without any cure for the disease, it can only be prevented with multiple doses of polio vaccines that have long been proven safe and effective.

One polio case was confirmed in a three-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur. Aside from this, a suspected case of “acute flaccid paralysis” is awaiting confirmation.

The poliovirus has been detected in samples taken from sewage in Manila and waterways in Davao during an environmental surveillance in the area, as tested and confirmed by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and verified by the Japan National Institute for Infectious Diseases and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd said in a press briefing that the DOH is already in close coordination with local government units and concerned national agencies, and with the support of WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and other partners, is preparing a rapid response to the polio outbreak.

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Photo from WHO Pakistan

This includes a series of synchronized oral polio vaccinations to protect every child under the age of 5 years in areas at risk beginning in October 2019.

The government will also work with partners to strengthen environmental and Accute Flaccid Paralysis surveillance nationwide to detect poliovirus.

A single confirmed polio case of vaccine-derived polio virus type 2 or two positive environmental samples are genetically linked isolated in two different locations is considered an epidemic in a polio-free country.

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Photo from ABS-CBN News

Duque advised parents, health workers, and local government units to fully participate in the synchronized polio vaccination.

“It is the only way to stop the polio outbreak and to protect your child against this paralyzing disease,” he said.

“Aside from immunization, we remind the public to practice good personal hygiene, wash their hands regularly, use toilets, drink safe water, and cook food thoroughly,” he added. – Department of Health

— The Pacific Voice

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