MANILA, Phillipines – Another case of polio was confirmed in the Philippines, this time in a 5-year-old boy from Laguna, bringing the total number of people afflicted with the disease to two.
The Department of Health (DOH) in a statement Friday, September 20, described the boy as "immunocompromised," meaning he has multiple pediatric complications due to a weak immune system.
The DOH said it has yet to confirm whether the boy got his mandatory polio vaccination or not, but added that his immunocompromised status could have made him more vulnerable to the disease than other children.
According to DOH, the boy experienced the onset of paralysis on August 25. He has since been discharged from the hospital and is able to walk, but is still being closely monitored for other residual symptoms.
This comes a day after the DOH announced a polio epidemic in the Philippines after it found the disease in a 3-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur. The girl was paralyzed as a result.
Environmental samples testing positive of vaccine-derived poliovirus were also found in Manila and Davao.
The two cases and two environmental samples are enough reason to declare an epidemic or outbreak in a polio-free country, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
The Philippines was certified by the World Health Organization as polio-free since 2000, with the last case of poliovirus reported in 1993. The current outbreak marks the return of the disease to the Philippines after 19 years.
"We continue to urge parents and caregivers of children below 5 years old, health workers, and local chief executives to take part in the synchronized polio vaccination to be scheduled in their communities," the health chief said. (READ: ‘Polio vaccine is very safe,’ DOH reminds public amid epidemic)
In August, the DOH kicked off its polio vaccination campaign against polio in Manila. Duque said the environmental sample that tested positive was found in Tondo, the largest district in Manila in terms of area and population.
The polio vaccination campaign will be focused on the National Capital Region, Davao, and Lanao del Sur in October, and in Central Luzon and Calabarzon in November. – Rappler.com