Polio Reappears in the Philippines After 19 Years

Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is known to be one (1) of the most dangerous and most contagious diseases known to mankind. It is an infectious disease, which is caused by the culprit–the poliovirus. It is so dangerous that here in the Philippines, a specific vaccine to protect people from polio is developed and is recommended by medical experts to be injected to children under the age of five (5) years old.

Polio Reappears in the Philippines, An Outbreak Is Declared
This image was taken from The New York Times | NYTimes.com

In the year 2000, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed, through data from the World Health Organization (WHO), that the country is free from polio; that no one will be experiencing the signs and symptoms of it because all people in the country are safe from it.

Read: How Much Should You Spend to Treat and Prevent Measles in the Philippines?

Now, however, polio reappears in the Philippines; one (1) case of the polio disease/condition has been confirmed; it is from a 3-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur. In addition to that, samples of the virus has been detected and seen in sewage samples of both Davaoand Manila.

How does polio get transmitted?

According to researchers and Scientists, polio is spread when the stool of a person who has it is introduced and transmitted to the mouth of another person either through contaminated food or water. In some cases, oral-to-oral transmission is possible; or the way when the saliva of an infected person gets transmitted to another person.

This is the reason why it is not recommended to share food and/or drinks with anyone, especially if you do not know the person. Through this, people can get infected without them knowing it.

Read: No Vaccination, No Enrollment Policy – Suggested by DOH

Most commonly, it affects children–children who are under five (5) years old since their immune systems aren’t used to being utilized, yet.

What are the signs and symptoms of polio?

It is always better to be safe than sorry; this is why it is imperative for people to know the earliest signs and symptoms of polio. These include:

  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting
  • Back/Neck/Arm and Leg pain or stiffness
  • Moderate to high fever

According to MayoClinic, these signs and symptoms can last up to a total of ten (10) days and it should be acted upon immediately because it can result to a brainstem or spinal cord paralysis.

Polio reappears in the Philippines

According to the DOH, a single (1) polio case, virus type 2 and two (2) samples in sewage waters have been confirmed; even if we are declared as a country that is polio-free.

Read: The Department Of Health (DOH) Declares a National Dengue Epidemic

A single confirmed polio case of vaccine-derived polio virus type 2 or two positive environmental samples that are genetically linked isolated in two different locations is considered an epidemic in a polio-free country.”

This simply means that the polio virus has taken its dwelling in our country after 19 years of being free from it; it is then confirmed that polio reappears in the Philippines and everyone, not just people, should be wary of it.

Is there a cure for polio?

According to the DOH, once a person who has polio gets infected, there is no specific cure for it. However, taking multiple polio vaccine doses has been proven to be safe, effective, and calm; and it can prevent it.

In addition to that, supportive treatments partnered with early diagnosis of the disease like physical therapy, nutritional diet, pain control, and bed rest, can help the body to avoid different deformities that can be caused by the polio virus.

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DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III made a warning that the country is truly at a high risk for poliovirus transmission because there was a significant drop in the oral polio vaccine coverage in previous years.

In addition to that, he said that back in 2018, it was only 66 percent for the third (3rd) dose of the OPV treatment coverage. The target is at the 95-percentage range to make sure that the whole population of the Philippines is duly protected against this disease.

Why was there a significant drop in the 3rddose of the OPV?

Now, many people are alarmed that polio reappears in the Philippines; and this is actually because of the Dengvaxia issue. A large decrease in the immunization of polio can be seen due to the Dengvaxia-scare after the statement made that it will have negative effects if it was given and injected to people who never had Dengue.

Read: CONFIRMED – No Direct Deaths by Dengvaxia, DOH

As mentioned above, the only way that polio can be prevented is by continuous polio vaccines. The DOH is urging all parents to have their children, especially those who are below five (5) years old, to take appropriate action by having the OPV at different centers.

Furthermore, the DOH said that next month, it will be holding a synchronized oral polio immunization program that would be provided by the agency itself.

Other than the vaccine, what are ways on how we can be safe from polio?

Since polio is a highly contagious disease/condition, good personal hygiene, drinking safe water, and cooking healthy food can also increase the chances to fight back from polio. Although getting the vaccine might be the only assurance we have.

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It is the only way to stop the polio outbreak and to protect your child against this paralyzing disease. Apart from immunization, we remind the public to practice good personal hygiene, wash their hands regularly, use toilets, drink safe water, and cook food thoroughly.”

This should not be a problem, why? Because last August, the DOH already gave warnings and even urged everyone to “act now” to be able to be safe from this virus–to keep our country polio-free again. But now, various cases of the poliovirus were seen in both a child and in sewage waters in both Davao and Manila.

Read: South Korea Advisory: Restrictions on Carrying Animals and Animal Products in South Korea

Polio reappears in the Philippines–how would you react? It could be because of our country’s negligence of it. As parents and as part of the adolescent, it might be a sign that the country needs more attention in solving problems than believing myths and false sayings without further evidence.

So don’t hesitate to have your child be vaccinated; let us work hand-in-hand to maintain our country’s image to be polio-free. Yes, polio reappears in the Philippines but we were once free from it–can we not make it work to get it back to where it was?

Source: ABS-CBN News

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