DOH confirms second polio case in PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 20)— A day after health officials declared an outbreak of the disease in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) on Friday confirmed a second case of polio in the country.

In a statement, DOH announced that a five-year-old boy from Laguna is the second confirmed case of the infectious disease, which has reemerged in the country after nineteen years.

Officials said the boy experienced the onset of paralysis on August 25.

The first confirmed case—a three-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur—earlier prompted authorities to declare a nationwide outbreak of polio.

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

DOH earlier said the poliovirus, the causative agent of 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 reveals there is no cure for polio, which causes nerve injury leading to possible paralysis. A disease which can be fatal on rare occasions, polio can only be prevented through multiple doses of vaccines.

With the new case, DOH renewed its call for the public to practice proper hygiene to help stop the spread of polio virus, which is typically transmitted through the fecal-oral route.

‘Other disease outbreaks possible’

Amid the reemergence of the infectious disease, public health officials and medical experts alike called on the public—particularly parents-- to restore confidence in vaccines.

Napakahalaga talaga ng bakuna. We cannot belittle the value of vaccines,” Duque told CNN Philippines.

Ang mga magulang ay dapat magbalik ang tiwala sa ating immunization program,” added the Health secretary, who confirmed that the first polio case had no history of vaccination.

[Translation: Vaccines are really important. We cannot belittle the value of vaccines. Parents should trust our immunization program.]

Dr. Lulu Bravo of the Doctors for Truth and Welfare echoed the sentiment, cautioning that other disease outbreaks may be on the table soon due to the country’s poor vaccine coverage. She noted the Philippines may soon “go back to the middle ages.”

“Because other than polio, there are other diseases that can still come back—like pertussis, meningitis-- these are all potential disease outbreaks in the future because our vaccine coverage has gone down,” Bravo told CNN Philippines.

“Now we need everybody's cooperation, collaboration, and really try to figure out how to beat this epidemic again,” she added.