DOH confirms new polio case, this time in Laguna

Henrietta Strickland
September 21, 2019

Philippine well being officers declared a polio outbreak within the nation on Thursday, practically twenty years after the World Well being Group declared it to be freed from the extremely contagious and probably lethal illness.

In response, he said, the Department of Health (DOH) is in close coordination with the local government units, national agencies, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in implementing a series of synchronized oral polio vaccinations to protect every child under five years old.

The Philippines Friday launched a programme to immunise millions of children from polio after the Asian nation was hit by its first outbreak of the crippling disease in almost two decades. There are no cures for polio but there are vaccines for its prevention.

Philippine officials today said they were preparing to vaccinate millions of children against polio to halt an outbreak of a disease it believed to have been eradicated. Duque said his department will launch a mass vaccination campaign next month for children under age 5, starting in the Manila metropolis, Lanao del Sur and Davao, where the virus was detected.

In 2018, 12 out of the 17 regions in the country were identified as high-risk areas for polio reemergence, according to the Department of Health.

Next month's programme, following the detection of the virus in a three-year-old girl, comes as the Philippines grapples to tackle twin outbreaks of dengue and measles that have killed more than 1,000 people since January, a lot of them children. When a child is immunized with OPV, the weakened virus replicates in the intestine for a limited period, thereby developing immunity by building up antibodies.

"It is deeply disconcerting that poliovirus has re-emerged in the Philippines".

If a population is not sufficiently immunized, the weakened virus can continue to circulate. The longer it is allowed to survive, the more changes it undergoes, it said.

Duque said a massive oral immunization program would be launched nationwide next month.

Duque said the re-emergence of polio was brought about by low immunisation coverage for polio, poor environmental sanitation and hygiene and low disease surveillance.

Duque's statement came amid an ongoing measles outbreak and dengue epidemic in the country as a result of mistrust generated by a recent scandal involving Dengvaxia, a drug developed by French firm Sanofi Pasteur to counter dengue.

The Philippines has faced a challenge recently in convincing parents to vaccinate children after it scrapped a dengue immunisation programme using Sanofi's Dengvaxia in late 2017, following its linkage to child deaths.

The federal government halted the dengue immunization drive after Sanofi stated a research confirmed the vaccine could enhance the chance of extreme dengue infections.

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