The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed four more cases of polio in the country. The Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) logged three patients in Mindanao and one in Quezon City — the first case in Metro Manila, according to a statement released on January 16, 2020.
The four patients were children aged 2 to 3 and bring the total number of polio cases in the country to 16 since the outbreak in September 2019. All showed symptoms of polio, such as fever, diarrhea, muscle pain, asymmetric ascending paralysis, and weakness of the extremities.
The Philippines had been polio-free since October 2000, with the last case of poliovirus reported in 1993 before the outbreak in 2019. The virus was detected in water sewage samples in Manila and Davao.
There is no cure for polio, and the only way to protect kids is through vaccination. Health Secretary Franciso T. Duque III urged all parents and caregivers to vaccinate all children ages 0 to 5 once more.
“Have your children, including those with private physicians or pediatricians, vaccinated with oral polio vaccine by health workers and bakunators,” he said via the press release. (Click here to read the immunization guidelines for polio vaccinations.)
“Additional polio doses can provide additional protection to your children. There is no overdose with the oral polio vaccine,” Duque added. Doctors recommend booster shots for people in high-risk areas.
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Parents and caregivers should take advantage of the country’s immunization program. DOH has extended its vaccination campaign against polio in all regions of Mindanao from January 20 to February 2 and from January 27 to February 7 in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The program aims to innoculate at least 95% of Filipino children to ensure herd immunity. “When the population is fully immunized with both oral polio vaccine and inactivated polio vaccine, this kind of transmission cannot take place,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a report released when the outbreak started.
DOH also instructed healthcare officials to boost their monitoring on acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) or sudden onset of floppy arms or legs, and promptly report it. AFP is one of the symptoms of polio, along with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, headache, nausea, tiredness, stomach pain, vomiting, and a stiff neck.
All three types of polio virus identified in the outbreak are transmitted through the oral-fecal route. A child can get infected via direct contact with feces or inhalation of droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected individual. It can also spread through touching a contaminated object and placing it or our hand in or near your mouth.
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Apart from vaccination, practicing proper handwashing regularly or using alcohol-based sanitizers instead of soap and water can also help prevent the spread of the virus.
Click here to make sure you and your family are practicing proper handwashing, plus what kinds of hand sanitizers you can use to clean your hands.