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Polio epidemic: DOH confirms resurgence in Philippines

Sep 20. 2019
A baby gets oral polio vaccine.
A baby gets oral polio vaccine.
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By Krissy Aguilar

MANILA, Philippines — Nearly two decades after the Philippines was declared polio-free, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed Thursday the resurgence of polio in the country as it recently recorded its first case of the potentially deadly infectious disease in Lanao del Sur.

“One polio case was confirmed in a 3-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur,” DOH said in a statement.

“In addition, the poliovirus has been detected in samples taken from sewage in Manila and waterways in Davao as part of the regular environmental surveillance,” it added.

In 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Philippines polio-free, according to DOH.

“A single confirmed polio case of vaccine-derived polio virus type 2 (VDPV2) or two positive environmental samples that are genetically linked isolated in two different locations is considered an epidemic in a polio-free country,” DOH noted.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III encouraged parents to participate in the polio vaccination, saying it is the only way to protect their children.

“We strongly urge parents, health workers and local governments 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,” Duque said, as quoted in the same statement.

DOH explained polio as an “infectious disease which spreads rapidly” and “can cause paralysis and, on rare occasions, can be fatal.”

“There is no cure for polio – it can only be prevented with multiple doses of polio vaccines that have long been proven safe and effective,” the agency added. /kga

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