It’s official: polio has re-emerged in the Philippines
19 years later, a disease that was supposed to be extinct last year has re-emerged in the country
Sep 21, 2019
19 years after the country was declared polio-free, the Philippines is now in the midst of a polio epidemic.
On Sept. 19, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III confirmed that a three-year old girl in Lanao Del Sur was diagnosed with polio virus type 2. The onset of the illness began on June 26, and was confirmed by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases on Sept. 14.
DOH also reported that they found a second polio case, this time involving a five-year old boy, at the Laguna province. The onset of the illness began on Aug. 25, and was confirmed a day after the first polio case was found.
Country representative of the World Health Organization Rabindra Abeyasinghe notes that the type 2 polio virus was previously certified eliminated in the country, and has not been in circulation for years. Immunization programs implemented by the DOH do not offer vaccines that target type 2 polio specifically.
Studies conducted by the DOH also detected poliovirus in samples taken from sewage from Metro Manila and Davao City, though they have yet to find human cases of polio in the aforementioned areas.
In response to the polio outbreak, the DOH is preparing a series of synchronized oral polio vaccinations beginning in October, hoping to raise the national polio vaccination coverage to 95 percent. On average, the country’s national polio vaccination coverage is at 66 to 68 percent.
“There is no cure for polio,” Duque stresses. “It can only be prevented with multiple doses of polio vaccines that have long been proven safe and effective.” The World Health Organization also adds that children five years old and below are at risk of polio.
For now, the DOH advises the public to practice good hygiene by washing their hands, drinking safe water, and cooking food thoroughly.
Header photo courtesy of Inquirer.net
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