Just recently, the Department of Health confirmed its 17th case of polio in the country. According to the agency, the latest case is a one-year-old boy from Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. The one-year-old suffered from fever and sudden onset of weakness on the lower limbs. Moreover, DOH revealed that samples from the Butuanon River in Cebu also tested positive for the dreaded poliovirus according to the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine.
It can be recalled that the first re-emergence of the disease occurred September last year and has since grown to 17. It can also be recalled that the disease was deemed eradicated for two decades until its recent reappearance.
Moreover, DOH will be implementing their drive for vaccinations from February 17 to March 1 in Mindanao and February 24 to March 8 in Metro Manila. The agency is also assisting Cabanatuan and Mandaue in the surveillance, identification, and reporting of incidents.
Why polio came back? There are numerous speculations as to why the disease came back after two decades. Some blame the resurgence on the steady decline of vaccination over the past years. In Davao, where a strain of the poliovirus was confirmed in waterways, attributed the return of the disease on the unsanitary environment, also on the low turnout of vaccination. The City Health Office confirmed that residents along riverbanks do not have toilets and open defecation is prevalent in congested areas.
Photo credit: Unicef Philippines