9-year-old Basilan girl is 8th confirmed polio case in PH
MANILA, Philippines– The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday confirmed another polio case in Mindanao, bringing to eight the total number of children afflicted with the crippling disease in the country.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the latest case was a 9-year-old girl from Basilan province, who did not receive any polio vaccine.
Duque told reporters that the armed conflict in the region might have been a factor why the girl didn’t get vaccinated.
To be protected from the incurable disease, children should get three doses of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) when they turn 6, 10 and 14 weeks old. Together with the third OPV dose, an additional shot of the inactivated polio vaccine is needed.
The girl from Basilan is the oldest among the eight polio patients since an outbreak was declared in September. The first seven were 1 to 5 years old.
Duque said it was not rare for a child of school age to acquire the disease. In the case of the latest patient, he noted that her acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and symptoms of polio manifested late.
Except for one, all confirmed polio cases were recorded in Mindanao, where surveillance of AFP cases has been wanting. Health officials had said low immunization rate, poor environmental sanitation and dismal AFP surveillance contributed to the spread of polio.
Duque urged parents at Monday’s kickoff of the DOH’s third round of the supplemental OPV drive to cooperate and have their children under 5 years old vaccinated.
The department aims to vaccinate close to 1.3 million children in Metro Manila and 5.2 million in Mindanao until Dec. 7.
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