Philippines declares first polio case in nearly 20 years amid dengue epidemic

  • 05:39 20 September 2019

Philippines declares first polio case in nearly 20 years amid dengue epidemic

The Philippine Department of Health (DOH) declared a national polio epidemic Thursday after the poliovirus was detected, for the first time since October 2000, in a young girl from Lanao del Sur, APA reports quoting sputniknews.

Secretary of Health Dr. Francisco Duque III announced that results from a three-year-old girl’s stool were enough to identify that poliovirus, the causative agent of polio, had returned to the Philippines and prompted the government to issue a declaration of an “epidemic” or “outbreak.”

“The average polio vaccination has been at 66% to 68% [for 2018 and the first half of 2019]. It is really insufficient. We need [a] 95% vaccine rate of protection or coverage,” Duque told ANC 24/7 in a Thursday broadcast.

The country has also been dealing with a dengue epidemic since August 6. The DOH suspended use of the Dengvaxia vaccine in 2017 after it connected the vaccine to complications and even deaths of children.

Back in August, the DOH revoked Dengvaxia vaccine-maker Sanofi Pasteur’s certificate of product registration due to its failure to submit “post-approval requirements,” which are used to ensure public safety.

The government has since taken steps to destroy mosquito breeding areas through methods such as fogging and also has encouraged those in high-risk areas to wear long sleeves and use insect repellent.

A DOH report from last month noted that between the top of 2019 and August 24, an estimated 1,021 individuals have died after contracting the dengue virus. Those between the ages of five and nine are the most affected age group by the virus due to their weaker immune systems.