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Philippines, thought to be polio-free, confirms first case in over 25 years

Patient in Lanao del Sur Province confirmed to have Type 2 polio virus, strain thought to be eradicated since 2015

File photo

File photo (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Health Secretary of the Philippines Francisco Duque the 3rd announced on Thursday (Sept. 19) that the country has confirmed its first case of the polio virus in 19 years, since the country was declared polio-free in 2000, with its last case reported in 1993.

The Department of Health (DOH) announced that a three year old girl from Lanao del Sur Province has tested positive for the virus on Saturday (Sept. 14), reports local media. The girl, who was never vaccinated, is reportedly in stable condition but suffering from “residual paralysis.”

Duque said that there are concerns that the virus is re-emerging in other portions of the country as well. In addition to Lanao del Sur, located on the western side of the southern island of Davao, there are also reports that the Type 1 virus has been detected in sewage waters in Manila.

"The result of (the girl's stool) exam showed vaccine-derive poliovirus (VDPV) type 2, and the child was unvaccinated against polio," said DOH Epidemiology Bureau Director Ferchito Avelino, reports Rappler. A second case is awaiting confirmation by DOH officials according to reports.

Distressingly, until last week current cases of polio in the world were thought to all be of the Type 1 variety. The Type 2 poliovirus was thought to have been eradicated in September 2015.

In response to the two new cases in what was thought to be a polio-free country, the Philippine government is urging the public to participate in local vaccination programs to avoid a much more serious outbreak, reports Manila Times.“Aside from immunization, we remind the public to practice good personal hygiene, wash their hands regularly, use toilets, drink safe water and cook food thoroughly,” Duque reminded the public.