The National Polio Laboratory (NPL) of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and the Japan National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) today confirmed that a total of 26, out of 142 environmental samples (ES) collected, tested positive for poliovirus types 1 or 2.

Poliovirus Image/CDC

Out of the 26 positive samples, 25 were collected from the National Capital Region (NCR) and 1 from Davao City from July 1 to November 6, 2019.

Samples collected came from 39 sites in NCR, Cordillera Administrative Region, Region III, Region IV-A, Region XI, Region XII, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and Region VII as part of regular surveillance nationwide. The ES are being collected from sewage treatment plants and bodies of water from areas without treatment plants.

“The presence of the poliovirus in environmental samples implies that carriers of the virus are continuously shedding in the communities. If viruses continue to spread from person-to-person in areas with low immunization coverage, the polio virus evolves and regains the ability to cause paralysis,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque explained.

“This is why it is of utmost importance that we vaccinate all children below 5 years old (0-59 months), regardless of their vaccination status,” Duque added.

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In September 2019, the DOH declared the reemergence of poliovirus in the country. The DOH, RITM, UNICEF and the World Health Organization responded to the polio outbreaks through intensified surveillance of Acute Flaccid Paralysis cases, implementation of simultaneous mass vaccination, and expansion of ES collection sites nationwide. The NPL will continue to provide laboratory confirmation of cases and conduct collection of ES.

The DOH is conducting the third round of the Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio campaign in Metro Manila and the second round in all of Mindanao. This will run from November 25 to December 7, 2019. Health workers are set to go house-to-house to administer the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). Fixed vaccination posts/patak corners in the communities will also provide the OPV.