outbrain
Close  

After 18 years, crippling polio virus returns to Papua New Guinea — WHO

/ 02:38 PM June 26, 2018

An outbreak of polio has been confirmed in Papua New Guinea, the World Health Organization and the government said, with the virus detected in a child 18 years after the Pacific nation was declared free of the disease.

The WHO said there was one confirmed case — a six-year-old boy with lower limb weakness from Morobe province — with the disease detected in late April, and paralysis associated with the virus confirmed in May.

ADVERTISEMENT

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the same virus was also isolated from stool specimens of two healthy children in the same community, “representing an outbreak”, the WHO added.

“We are deeply concerned about this polio case in Papua New Guinea, and the fact that the virus is circulating,” PNG’s Health Secretary Pascoe Kase said in a statement Monday.

FEATURED STORIES

“Our immediate priority is to respond and prevent more children from being infected.”

Steps taken to stop the spread of the highly contagious, crippling disease include conducting large-scale immunisation campaigns and strengthening surveillance systems that help detect it early.

PNG has not had a case of the disease since 1996, and was certified as polio-free in 2000 along with the rest of the WHO’s Western Pacific region.

There is low polio vaccine coverage in Morobe province, on PNG’s northern coast, with only 61 percent of children receiving the recommended three doses, the WHO said.

The international body added that inadequate sanitation and hygiene were also issues in the area.

The WHO said the region’s isolation and the planned immunization activities meant the risk of the virus spreading to other countries was low.

Affecting mostly children under the age of five, polio — which has no cure and can only be prevented by giving a child multiple vaccine doses — can lead to irreversible paralysis.

ADVERTISEMENT

According to the WHO, the number of polio cases worldwide has fallen by more than 99 percent since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 cases then to 22 reported cases in 2017.

Only three countries — Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan — were considered polio-endemic by the WHO in March.  /vvp

Read Next
EDITORS' PICK
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Latest world news, Papua New Guinea, Polio, polio virus
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2020 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.