Polio scare as Malaysia reports first case in 27 years

Henrietta Strickland
December 9, 2019

Malaysia registered the first case of polio in 27 years, the France Press reported, citing the Malaysian Ministry of Health.

Mr Hisham said the toddler was diagnosed with circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVDPV 1) on Friday and is now undergoing treatment in an isolation ward.

According to ChannelsTv, Mr Abdullah said the baby from Tuaran in Eastern Sabah State had been admitted into intensive care after experiencing fever and muscle weakness.

"The patient is now under treatment in an isolation ward and in a stable condition, but still requires respiratory support", the official added in his statement. It can cause paralysis and, on rare occasions, can be fatal. Though there is no known cure for the disease, it can be prevented through vaccination.

Polio is spread when the stool of an infected person is introduced into the mouth of another person through contaminated water or food. This can spread to other children with no immunization against the disease. The last case of the disease was registered in 1992.

Noor Hisham said the tests showed that the boy was infected with a strain of polio that shared genetic links with the virus detected in Filipino cases.

Mr Hisham said an investigation showed that 23 out of 199 children aged two months to 15-years-old in the area where the case was discovered, or 11.6 percent, were not vaccinated. Its resurgence comes only months after the Philippines, north of Borneo, detailed its first instances of polio since 1993 in September. "There is a very high possibility of a rising trend".

In the wake of the recent case the parents of the children have agreed to have them vaccinated.

Stressing on the urgency to ramp up vaccination activities and prevent further cases, he said, "To ensure that the poliovirus is not transmitted in Malaysia and causes poliomyelitis among those who are not immune to polio infection, polio immunization activities will be continued in the area of residence and expanded to other risky areas".

In recent years, Malaysia has faced a challenge convincing some parents to immunise their children.

Jayabalan says that some individuals refuse to be vaccinated due to misinformation leading them to believe that immunization is hazardous and unsafe. This vaccine contains a live, attenuated (weakened) form of the virus.

It is now not compulsory for Malaysian children to be vaccinated before admission to school as it is up to each school to conduct further verification of each student's immunisation status.

Noor Hisham said faecal samples from the infected child's close contacts and his surroundings had been collected in a bid to detect the poliovirus. Importantly, as it is excreted, some of the vaccine-virus may no longer be the same as the original vaccine-virus as it has genetically altered during replication. "This is called a vaccine-derived poliovirus", explain experts involved in the eradication initiative.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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