Lae Community Under Health Radar As Poliovirus Outbreak Reported

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By Staycey Yalo, EMTV News, Port Moresby

The National Department of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday (June 25) confirmed that there is an outbreak of poliovirus in a community in Morobe Province, where the virus was first detected in April this year.

The one confirmed case is a 6-year-old boy with lower limb weakness. A vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (VDPV1) had been isolated as the cause of the paralysis on May 21, 2018.

On 22 June 2018, the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the same virus was also isolated from stool specimens of two healthy children from the same community in Lufa Mountain Settlement.

Outbreak response activities are on-going in Morobe Province and experts from the NDOH, Papua New Guinea’s Central Public Health Laboratory, Provincial Health Authorities and WHO have conducted field missions to undertake clinical investigations, house-to-house surveys, sample collection and contact tracing.

The team also collected stool specimens from family members of the patient and from the community. A “mop up” immunization campaign was done in the community targeting children under 15 years old. To date, 845 children from the Lufa Mountain Settlement have been vaccinated.

PNG has not had a case of wild poliovirus since 1996, and the country was certified as polio-free in 2000 along with the rest of the WHO Western Pacific Region.

Because of relatively limited travel to and from this area and the planned immunization activities, WHO assesses the risk of international spread of the cVDPV from Papua New Guinea to other countries to be low.

However, it is important that all countries—in particular those with frequent travel and contacts with polio-affected countries and areas—strengthen surveillance for cases of AFP to rapidly detect any virus importation and facilitate a rapid response. Countries, territories and areas should maintain high immunization coverage to minimize the consequences of any new virus introduction.

WHO recommends that all travellers to polio-affected areas be fully vaccinated against polio. Residents (and visitors for more than 4 weeks) from infected areas should receive an additional dose of OPV or inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) within 4 weeks to 12 months of travel.

Image: Online Biology Notes

Staycey Yalo

Journalist, Staycey Yalo has been working with EMTV since October, 2017. She graduated in 2017 from the University of Papua New Guinea with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Public Relations. Staycey's experience extends to three years in the Print media covering Politics and Education.

Staycey Yalo