8th polio case from Basilan; 7 of 8 from Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 November) – The eighth confirmed case of poliovirus is from Basilan, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Monday, bringing to eight the total number of cases, seven of them from Mindanao.

The DOH said the latest case is a nine-year old girl from Basilan who had not received any polio vaccine. The case from Basilan makes for a total of at least five cases in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

It said samples sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases – Japan came out positive for poliovirus.

The DOH said it has been coordinating with the BARMM’s Ministry of Health to maximize immunization coverage and intensify polio vaccination efforts in Basilan.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III assured stocks of oral polio vaccine are sufficient and that preparations for the outbreak response immunization are underway.

The DOH announcement on the 8th polio case came at the start of the second round of the Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio from November 25 to December 7 in the National Capital Region and the whole of Mindanao. All children under five years of age, regardless of immunization status, will receive a dose of the oral polio vaccine during the campaign.

Duque urged parents and caregivers of children under five to ensure they are vaccinated.

Health workers and vaccination teams are going house-to-house to ensure that all children under five are vaccinated. Aside from the house-to-house campaign, oral polio vaccination will be administered in health centers, government hospitals, fixed vaccination posts in barangays, malls, terminals, and fast food chains, among others.

Mindanao cases

The first confirmed case of polio, announced by the DOH on September 19, is a three-year old girl from Marogong in Lanao del Sur, the second, announced on September 20, is a five-year old boy from Calamba, Laguna and the third, a four-year old girl from Datu Piang in Maguindanao, was announced on October 28.

The fourth, also from Mindanao, was announced by Health Secretary Francisco Duque during a media interview on November 5. But there were no details about the case except that the child afflicted is “from Mindanao.”

The fifth, sixth and seventh cases are from Maguindanao, Cotabato City and North Cotabato and the eighth is from Basilan.

Of the seven confirmed cases in Mindanao, at least five are from the Bangsamoro region: two from Maguindanao, one from Lanao del Sur, one from Basilan and one from Cotabato City which voted yes to inclusion in the BARMM in the January 2019 plebiscite but has yet to be formally turned over. The two others are from North Cotabato and from a still unnamed area in Mindanao.

The DOH on September 19 announced that polio was confirmed to have re-emerged 19 years after its eradication in the country.

It said polio, an infectious disease which spreads rapidly, can cause paralysis, and on rare occasions, can be fatal, has no cure but it can be prevented “with multiple doses of polio vaccine that have long been proven safe and effective.”

The oral polio vaccine (OPV) has three doses.

“A single confirmed polio case of vaccine-derived polio virus type 2 (VDPV2) or two positive environmental samples that are genetically linked isolated in two different locations is considered an epidemic in a polio free country,” the DOH said on September 19. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)