NAGA CITY --- The City Health Office of the local government unit here is in the process of identifying the children in the city’s 27 barangays who have not yet completed the required dosage of anti-polio virus. The office is also conducting an inventory of supplies needed in polio eradication.
This, after the central office of the Department of Health (DOH) declared a polio outbreak following the discovery of a case of a three-year-old victim in Lanao del Sur and two other cases in Manila and Davao.
City Health Officer Vito Borja, M.D. said that the tracking and identification of the children’s names are an initial step of providing the children with complete dose of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) and Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV).
Borja said at age of 6 weeks, a child must be given a dose of OPV, which shall be given again when he/she reaches the ages of 10 and 14 weeks. Dispensation of IPV is to be done when the child reaches 59 months or less than 5 years old.
The health officer, however, said that the plan about conducting a mass vaccination against polio, of which the children who received a partial dose of anti-polio are prioritized, cannot be pursued without an advice from DOH. “The absence of necessary instructions and guidance from DOH about the conduct of mass immunization would mean that polio virus has not yet reached Naga,” Borja said.
The DOH central office declared polio outbreak on September 19 after confirming the re-emergence of the disease 19 years after the Philippines has been declared polio-free by the World Health Organization (WHO). DOH has strengthened its surveillance against polio virus after it discovered polio cases in Lanao, Manila, and Davao.
Borja said signs and symptoms of polio include headache, fever, stiff neck, vomiting, fatigue, and sudden onset of floppy legs.
He said that proper hygiene must also be practiced by defecating in toilets, proper handwashing, making sure water is safe for drinking, and prepare and cook food thoroughly.
Polio is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system, causing fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiff neck, and floppy arms and legs. It can lead to paralysis and death. Children below five years old are most vulnerable to the disease.
The DOH said the one confirmed case in Lanao – along with finding that two samples from Manila’s sewage tested positive for polio virus — is “considered an epidemic in a polio-free country.” “For years there had been near-total polio vaccination for children below 5 in the country, but this dropped to 95 percent in 2018 and it now stands at only 66 to 68 percent,” said DOH Secretary Rafael Duque III.