By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

Earlier this month, Philippines health officials reported two confirmed cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2)–one in a 3-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur in the southern Philippines on September 14 and a 5-year-old boy from Laguna confirmed on September 19.

Image/ via wikimedia commons

These are the first polio cases reported in the country in nineteen years. On September 19, the Department of Health declared a polio outbreak in the Philippines.

In addition to the human cases, five environmental samples collected through routine and enhanced environmental surveillance from a sewage pumping station in Manila on 1 and 22 July, 13 and 27 August, and 9 September 2019 tested positive for VDPV1.

These 5 viruses are genetically linked but officials did not find a genetic linkage with any other known VDPV1 detected globally. This indicates new emergence, UNICEF-WHO Philippines reports.

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Vaccination coverage in the Philippines has been steadily declining over the past few years. Estimated polio vaccination coverage for children aged < 1 year with the required 3 doses of bOPV for 2018 was 66% (compared to the recommended 95%). For IPV, coverage has been below 50% since its introduction in 2016 and is at 23% for 2019.

In response to the first confirmed VDPV1 samples, a synchronized vaccination campaign was organized on 19 to 31 August in Manila, reaching 53.8% of all targeted children 0-59 months with bOPV.

In response to the confirmed cVDPV2 samples, a vaccination campaign with monovalent OPV for poliovirus type 2 (mOPV2) needs to be urgently conducted targeting under-five children in most affected
areas. The first round will be conducted in Lanao del Sur and Davao mid-October, whereas the 2nd and
3rd round will be conducted throughout Mindanao mid-November 2019 and January 2020.

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In addition, health officials noted the following will take place as a result of the outbreak declaration: Step up Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) and environmental surveillance to detect cases, field investigation into confirmed cases to define the geographic scope of the circulation of the virus and inform planning for outbreak response including mass immunization campaigns and disseminate risk communication messages for broader population, health workers and partners.