The Philippine Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed a fourth polio case in the country, saying that another child has tested positive for the disease in the southern Philippines.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque said in a statement late Tuesday that the fourth case was recorded in Mindanao in the southern Philippines after tests by international medical organizations yielded positive results.
He did not reveal the location of the newly infected child.
On Sept. 19, 2019, the Philippines declared a polio outbreak after the infectious disease reappeared 19 years after the country was declared polio-free by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2000.
The first confirmed case of the Type 2 polio – a 3-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur province in the southern Philippines – prompted authorities to declare a nationwide polio outbreak in September.
The second and third confirmed cases were a 5-year-old boy from Laguna province in the main Luzon island and a 4-year-old girl from Maguinadano province, also in the southern Philippines.
Children in the Philippines are at risk of lifelong paralysis because of this outbreak.
The DOH and partners are working together on a comprehensive outbreak response, including mass polio immunization rounds from October.
An average of 95.58 percent coverage of children 0 to 59 months old who were vaccinated against polio as of Oct. 31, according to the DOH.
Duque said the new round of polio vaccinations will cover the whole of Mindanao and is scheduled this month until December.
“We can defeat polio, but we need the public to trust and actively participate in our immunization programs,” Duque said.
Polio is an infectious disease that spreads rapidly. It can cause paralysis and, on rare occasions, can be fatal. There is no cure for polio. However, it can only be prevented with multiple doses of polio vaccines that have long been proven safe and effective.
Polio is spread when the stool of an infected person is introduced into the mouth of another person through contaminated water or food.
Duque said that polio is best prevented through vaccination. Proper hygiene like hand washing will also help in the prevention, he added.