Gov’t of Australia warns its citizens against polio outbreak in PH

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2019   •   230

The Australian National flag is seen flaming on the paddock in Melbourne, Australia, 25 March 2010. EPA/DIEGO AZUBEL

MANILA, Philippines – The Australian government on Tuesday (September 24) issued a travel advisory to its citizens warning them against the health risks of polio virus.

Australians are also advised to make sure they get polio vaccine to keep protected from the disease.

“The Philippines Department of Health has reported a polio outbreak. Make sure you’re vaccinated against polio,” the Australian government said in its latest travel advisory posted on its official website, Smartraveller.

“We haven’t changed the level of our advice ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ in the Philippines. Higher levels apply in the southern parts of the country,” the advisory concluded.

DOH probing emerging cases of diphtheria, other infectious diseases in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   September 25, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Apart from polio, cases of other infectious diseases such as diphtheria have also emerged in some parts of the country, the Department of Health (DOH) said.

In a statement issued on Wednesday (Sept. 25), the DOH reported that its Epidemiology Bureau recorded 167 cases with 40 deaths from January to September this year.

This is higher compared to 122 cases and 30 deaths recorded in the same period in 2018.

“The reasons for the trend are being investigated,” the DOH said.

It, however, clarified that the number of cases is not yet considered alarming.

Diphtheria is a bacterial infection affecting the nose and throat. An infected person would develop a thick covering called pseudomembrane formation in the back of their throat, causing a person’s airways to be blocked and experience difficulty in breathing.

This disease can be transmitted by droplets spread through sneezing, coughing and close contact to an infected person.

Health officials said immunization remains as the most effective prevention for the disease.

Parents are encouraged to have their infants completely immunized with three doses of DPT at ages 6 weeks old, 10 weeks old and 14 weeks old to counter diphtheria.

The DOH said the anti-toxin for diphtheria is available in the country, through the assistance of the World Health Organization.

Antibiotics for diphtheria, namely penicillin, erythromycin, clarithromycin, and azithromycin, are also locally and commercially available.

Aside from diphtheria, the DOH also urged parents and caregivers to protect children from other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus, through immunization.

“Now more than ever, the importance of protecting our infants and children from vaccine-preventable diseases remains paramount,” it said.

The DOH also calls in local government units and health professionals to work together to ensure that every child will receive vaccines on time to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and increase the country’s immunization coverage.

DENR to check rivers for coliform content amid polio outbreak

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2019

Filipino residents cross a hanging bridge along the polluted water of Pasig river in Manila, Philippines, 31 May 2018 (issued on 04 June 2018). EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will conduct testing of water samples from all rivers across the country amid the ongoing outbreak of poliovirus.

The test is to determine the quality of and coliform content in the country’s bodies of water after water samples from the sewerage system in Tondo, Manila and Davao city tested positive of poliovirus.

According to DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered all its regional offices to submit the results as soon as possible.

“Hahanapin namin ang mga pipes na nagtatapon sa mga rivers para masiguro natin na hindi na madagdagan pa ang polusyon ng river (We will trace the pipes that discharge directly into the rivers to make sure that pollution level in our rivers will not escalate),” Antiporda said. – MNP (with details from Grace Casin)

DOH monitors another child from Laguna for possible polio

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A six-year-old boy from Barangay Parian in Calamba, Laguna is now being monitored after showing symptoms of polio.

According to the Department of Health (DOH) Region 4A Director Eduardo Janairo, the boy also manifests difficulty walking.

“Ang problema doon, hindi siya nabigyan ng kahit anung polio vaccine kaya medyo suspected talaga at delikado siya, (The problem is that, he never received any polio vaccine so he is highly at risk), Janairo said.

The boy’s fecal sample has already been sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for tests.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), poliomyelitis or polio is a highly infectious infantile paralysis caused by poliovirus. It causes muscle weakness and inability to move. In some cases, polio may lead to breathing difficulty and death.

Poliovirus can spread through fecal to oral transmission or when the stool of an infected person is introduced into the mouth of another person through contaminated water or food.

Oral to oral transmission, meanwhile, is through an infected person’s saliva.

“Napakaimportante ng cleanliness, nang paghuhugas ng kamay pagkatapos mag-CR, (Cleanliness is very important like proper washing of the hands every after defecating),” Janairo advised.

“Ang mga bata kailangan lagi naghuhugas ng kamay pagkatapos maglaro at kung maari iyong kuko, iyong mga putik sa kuko, maaaring may polio virus iyon na kapag nakain ng bata, magkakaroon din siya, (Children should practice hand washing every after outdoor activities. The dirt or mud in their nails must be cleaned because they might have polio virus. Once they ingest that, they can be infected),” the official said.

Polio symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs which can lead to permanent paralysis.

At present, there is no cure for polio but it can be prevented through immunization.

Meanwhile, they boy from Laguna who earlier tested positive for poliovirus is now confined at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City. – MNP (with reports from Sherwin Culubong)

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