Polio outbreak declared in PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 19)—  Nineteen years after the World Health Organization (WHO) cleared the country of the disease, the Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday confirmed the reemergence of polio in the Philippines.

In a media briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said officials have declared a polio outbreak in the country following a single reported case of the infectious disease, which causes nerve injury leading to possible paralysis.

Duque said a three-year-old in Lanao del Sur was the first confirmed case of Type 2 polio in the country.

A single confirmed case in a polio-free nation automatically calls for a declaration of an outbreak, the Health secretary explained.

DOH said the poliovirus, the virus which causes polio, has been detected in samples from sewage in Manila and waterways in Davao. The samples were tested by medical institutions in Japan and the United States.

Health research revealed there is no cure for polio. A disease which can be fatal on rare occasions, polio can only be prevented through multiple doses of polio vaccines.

Ninety-five percent of polio cases do not show any symptoms, the Health Department said. The others, on the other hand, display fever-like symptoms.

Health officials said 0.5 percent of polio patients may be paralyzed for life, while 0.4 percent will have reversible paralysis. Rare cases show that some polio patients die due to respiratory problems.

DOH said it is working with local government units, the WHO, and the United Nations Children's Fund in preparing a “rapid response” to the epidemic. The agency said authorities will roll out a series of synchronized oral polio vaccinations later this year for children under the age of 5 in areas perceived to be at risk.

The department, in the meantime, urged the public to practice good personal hygiene to help prevent the spread of the virus.

CNN Philippines' Melissa Lopez contributed to this report.