DOH: 1 in 5 environmental samples positive for polio

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    NEARLY one in every five environmental samples (ES) collected around the country have tested positive for the dreaded polio virus, according to the Department of Health.

    Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and the Japan National Institute of Infectious Diseases confirmed yesterday that 26 out of 142 environmental samples collected from July 1 to November 6 had tested positive for the virus.

    “Out of the 26 positive samples, 25 were collected from the National Capital Region and 1 from Davao City,” said Duque.

    The 142 ES were collected from the NCR, Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Davao Region, Soccsksargen, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and Central Visayas.

    Duque said the ES were collected from sewage treatment plants and bodies of water from areas without treatment plants. They are being collected as part of regular surveillance nationwide, he added.

    Duque said the presence of the polio virus in environmental samples implies that the carriers of the virus are not being controlled.

    “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 said, adding the findings give the DOH all the more reason to administer oral polio vaccine to the public, especially children.

    “This is why it is of utmost importance that we vaccinate all children below 5 years old, regardless of their vaccination status,” Duque said.

    The DOH is currently conducting the third round of the synchronized vaccination campaign in Metro Manila and the second round in Mindanao. The drive will be up to December 7.