A 3-month-old infant from Malaysia has been diagnosed with polio, becoming the first case in the nation in 27 years.
Director-General of Health Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement that the boy – despite being in a stable condition and contained in an isolation ward – still requires assistance to breathe.
According to test results, the infant’s virus shares genetic links with the recent polio outbreak in the Philippines.
Vaccine necessary to stop disease from spreading
Upon further investigation, Dr Noor Hisham found that only 23 out of 199 children who lived in the baby’s area between the ages of 2 months to 15 years old had not received the polio vaccine.
This to him is a grave problem as the disease can only be stopped with proper immunisation.
“This is a frustrating situation because the circulation of a cVDPV can only end with a polio immunisation. The virus can infect others who have not been immunised against polio and will thus spread in communities whose polio immunisation rates are less than 95%, ” he added.
After the infant’s diagnosis, Malaysian authorities have stepped up efforts in monitoring acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases which is a common sign of acute polio.
Besides that, Dr Noor Hisham also strongly urged parents to ensure their children are vaccinated as it is their only way of preventing the disease from further spreading.
Malaysia polio-free since 2000
Malaysia’s last known case of polio was in 1992, after which the country was declared polio-free in 2000. Its current resurgence of polio comes just months after the Philippines, reported its first cases of polio since 1993 in September.
Based on the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, South East Asia, the Americas, Europe, and the Western Pacific are certified polio-free, except for Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan which are the last countries where the disease is endemic or regularly found.
What is polio?
Caused by poliovirus, polio is a deadly contagious disease that spreads rapidly among children – especially those living in unsanitary condition in underdeveloped or war-torn regions. The illness usually spreads from person to person and can infect the brain and the spinal cord, causing paralysis.
- Sore throat
- Muscle weakness
- Severe constipation
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Trouble swallowing
The best and most effective way to treat the illness is through polio vaccination.
The Singapore government recommends immunisation against polio to all children between 3 to 18 months of age. Vaccination against Polio is usually combined into one injection called “DTaP-IPV+HIB vaccine (5 in 1)” or “DTaP-IPV+HIB+ Hep B vaccine (6 in 1)”.
Two booster doses should be given to all children, the 1st booster at 18 months with the above combination vaccine. The 2nd Booster in the form of oral polio is given in school at 11 years of age (Primary 5).
The 5-in-1 combination vaccine is provided free of charge by the government at polyclinics for Singapore citizens.
Parents, do ensure your child has been vaccinated.