MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday, October 28, confirmed the third case of polio in the country since it declared an outbreak in September.
The disease was found in a 4-year-old girl from Datu Piang in Maguindanao. According to the DOH, the girl did not receive any dose of oral polio vaccine (OPV). (READ: EXPLAINER: What is polio?)
The child had been under surveillance since September, after showing symptoms like fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle pain, prompting the Cotabato Regional Medical Center to record a case of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP). AFP is a "sudden onset of paralysis or weakness in any part of the body of a child less than 15 years of age" according to the World Health Organization. Not all cases of AFP are from polio, as it is a symptom that may develop from other diseases like West Nile fever.
The stool samples tested positive of vaccine-derived poliovirus 2(VDPV2) and were found to be genetically linked to the virus found in the 3-year-old girl from Morogong, Lanao del Sur, the case that prompted the declaration of an outbreak in September. This means that the virus from Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur have similar structures.
Samples from another suspected case are still being confirmed with the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan.
Aside from the two girls from Mindanao, another confirmed case of polio was recorded in a 5-year-old boy from Calamba, Laguna. The boy was found to be immunicompromised, meaning he had a weak immune system to begin with. The country was declared polio-free since October 2000, with the last case of poliovirus reported in 1993.
In response to the new case, the DOH will be conducting a polio vaccination drive in Datu Piang, Maguindanao, from November 4 to 8. The health department aims to vaccinate 4,254 children from 0 to 59 months. The DOH is also meeting with partners WHO and Unicef, as well as local leaders of Datu Piang to further discuss response to the disease.
On October 27, Sunday, the DOH concluded the first round of catch-up polio vaccination in Metro Manila, Lanao del Sur, Marawi City, Davao City, and Davao del Sur. Other provinces in Mindanao will be covered from November 25 to December 7.
The campaign involves door-to-door vaccination and ensures that barangay health units and municipal health centers have enough supply of the polio vaccine. Health chief Francisco Duque III assures parents that stocks of OPV are sufficient. – Rappler.com