Philippines hit by first polio case since 2001

Manila: The Philippines has detected its first case of polio since 2001, officials said on Thursday, putting some of the blame on mistrust stoked by a dengue fever vaccine scandal.
Health authorities said a three-year-old girl in a southern province had contracted polio, while the virus was also detected in Manila’s sewage and in waterways of the large southern city of Davao.
“This is our first polio case of any kind since 2001,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.
The health department said it was also investigating one other suspected case, but gave no details.
“We are concerned the there are maybe other people who have been exposed to this virus and there could potentially be other cases,” WHO country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe told reporters.
Over the past three decades the world has made great strides in the battle against polio, a highly infectious disease which can lead to paralysis or even death and has no cure.
The World Health Organisation said only 33 cases were reported worldwide last year.
The news comes after the Philippines was hit by measles and dengue outbreaks earlier this year, killing more than a thousand people, as many parents did not get their children vaccinated.
“When your (immunisation) coverage is very low, you can have the vaccine-derived virus being transmitted from person to person,” Abeyasinghe said, referring to polio.—AFP