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Philippines announces polio outbreak nearly 20 years after country was declared free of the disease


The Philippines announced an outbreak of polio on Thursday, nearly 20 years after the country was declared free of the disease by the World Health Organization in 2000.

Philippines’ Department of Health confirmed the reemergence of polio as a 3-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur was confirmed to have the disease. Sewage samples and Manila and waterways in Davao also tested positive for the virus during routine surveillance, the department said in a statement.

There is another suspected case of acute flaccid paralysis — which can occur in cases of polio — which officials are working to confirm.

Caused by poliovirus, the disease can create a number of symptoms in those infected, including sore throat, fever, tiredness, stomach pain and nausea, according to the CDC. It can cause long-term complications, including paralysis in the limbs, feelings of “pins and needles” and meningitis.

A polio outbreak is typically declared in a country that has been free of the disease when one case in a person, or two environmental samples, are confirmed, the DOH said. Amid the outbreak, the Philippines is working to increase vaccination procedures against the disease.

"We strongly urge parents, health workers and local governments to fully participate in the synchronized polio vaccination,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement. “It is the only way to stop the polio outbreak and to protect your child against this paralyzing disease.”

The Department of Health also encouraged people to take preventative measures that fight against all diseases, including regular hand washing, drinking safe water and cooking food thoroughly.