DOH warns of possible polio spread

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Sunday, May 18, 2014


THE Department of Health (DOH) in the Cordillera Administrative Region alerted the public against the spread of polio, as the World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared it a global health emergency.

“We are being warned; we are being alerted to strengthen our surveillance,” said Elnoira Bugnosen, coordinator for Regional Epidemiological and Surveillance Unit–Health Emergency Management System.

While the Philippines remains a polio-free country since October 2000, after having zero confirmed cases of indigenous wild polio virus from 1997, the WHO called for worldwide attention because there was a recent spread of the virus from Pakistan to Afghanistan, Syria to Iraq and Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea.

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“For those who are going to other countries, they should see to it that they are vaccinated,” Bugnosen said.

Migrants from other countries might cause polio virus’ return to the country, thus Bugnosen sternly highlighted people coming in the country should make sure they are polio-negative.

According to her, health facilities are told to further monitor patients with Acute Flaccid Paralysis or sudden floppiness, because they are most likely to be infected by the wild polio virus.

As a preventive measure and to maintain immunity, Bugnosen suggested taking anti-polio drops or the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) especially to ages 15 and below who are disposed to the virus.

Since the disease is non-curable, she believes vaccination is the best way to prevent it.

The coordinator emphasized one child infected with the virus can affect an alarming number of 200 people.

All municipal health offices have scheduled free immunization made accessible for mothers who want to have their child vaccinated with the OPV. She assured all public medical facilities and practitioners who will perform the vaccination are trained and equipped.

Polio, scientifically known as poliomyelitis, is a non-curable viral disease usually transmitted through contaminated food and water. The disease is feared for permanent paralysis it causes in some cases.

Symptoms of polio include headache, fatigue, vomiting, fever, stiff neck and pain in the limbs.

A campaign called the Global Polio Eradication Initiative started the oral immunization of children worldwide as part of the intensive and incessant fight against the wild polio virus. (Giovani Joy Fontanilla)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 19, 2014.

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