MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday confirmed that 26 of the 142 environmental samples sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and the Japan National Institute of Infectious Diseases have tested positive for poliovirus types 1 or 2.
In a statement, the DOH said the samples were collected from Davao City and National Capital Region from July 1 to November 6.
The 142 samples were taken from sewage treatment plants and bodies of water from areas without treatment plants in 39 sites in in National Capital Region, Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Davao, Central Mindanao, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and Central Visayas.
“The presence of the poliovirus in environmental samples implies that carriers of the virus are continuously shedding in the communities,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque was quoted as saying in the statement.
“If viruses continue to spread from person-to-person in areas with low immunization coverage, the polio virus evolves and regains the ability to cause paralysis,” he added.
With this development, Duque renewed his call on parents and caregivers to have their children below five years old be immunized against polio.
“This is why it is of utmost importance that we vaccinate all children below 5 years old (0-59 months), regardless of their vaccination status,” he said.
Duque earlier urged the public to complete the set of polio vaccinations, which includes three doses of oral polio vaccine and one injected dose of inactivated polio vaccine.
In September, the DOH confirmed the reemergence of poliovirus in the country 19 years after it was declared polio-free by the World Health Organization.
The department said it is currently conducting “Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio” campaign in Metro Manila and in Mindanao, which will run from Nov. 25 to Dec. 7.
Aside from health workers going from house-to-house to administer oral polio vaccine, fixed vaccination posts will also be set-up in communities, the DOH added.
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