By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

In a follow-up report on polio virus in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) declared an outbreak today after reporting one case of vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (VPDV2)  in a 3-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur. This is the country’s first confirmed case after 19 years of being polio-free.

Image/CDC-/ Meredith Boyter Newlove, M.S., James Archer, M.S.

Health officials say the girl was unvaccinated and is “now apparently well but with residual paralysis.

In addition, environmental samples from sewage in Manila and waterways in Davao were confirmed to contain the virus.

“We are very concerned that polioviruses are now circulating in Manila, Davao, and Lanao del Sur,” said World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in the Philippines, Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe. “WHO and UNICEF are working closely with the Department of Health to strengthen surveillance and swiftly respond to this outbreak. We urge all parents and caregivers of children under 5 years of age to have them vaccinated so that they are protected against polio for life.”

“It is deeply disconcerting that poliovirus has re-emerged in the Philippines after nearly two decades. The outbreak calls for urgent action to protect more children from being infected. It reminds us of the importance of increasing immunization coverage to 95% of children to stop polio virus transmission in the Philippines. Vaccination is the only and best protection against polio that mainly affects children under 5 years of age. As long as one single child remains infected, children across the country and even beyond are at risk of contracting polio,” said Oyun Dendevnorov, UNICEF Philippines Representative, “UNICEF is working with Department of Health and WHO to accelerate actions for the health and safety of children in the Philippines, especially in the affected regions.”

Prior to the declaration of the outbreak, the Department of Health and its partners launched a polio immunization campaign in the City of Manila. Further mass polio immunization rounds will be rolled out from October 2019.

The last known case of wild poliovirus recorded in the Philippines was in 1993. The country was declared wild polio-free in 2000.

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