New EHP polio case reported

A new polio case was reported on August 13th by the National Department of Health and the World Health Organization concerning a 22-month-old girl from Eastern Highlands Province.

This is the fourth case in the country, following confirmation of two cases from Morobe Province in June and July 2018 and a case from Enga in early August.

The confirmation was made on Friday, 10 August, by the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Lab. The little girl had an onset of paralysis on 8 July.

Based on the lab results, this case is genetically linked to the current outbreak in the country.

The NDOH has enhanced surveillance system and continuously receives reports of suspected acute flaccid paralysis. To date, there are 65 suspected cases being investigated.

The identification of the case highlights the risk of polio in children under 5 years of age, and the threat of spreading is high given the low routine immunisation coverage nationwide.

However, they can be protected from polio with vaccination and need multiple doses of oral polio vaccine, irrespective of previous immunisation status. The vaccine is safe, free and has a unique ability to stop person-to-person spread of the virus.

The Health Department is calling on parents to bring every child under 5 years of age to the nearest health centre or vaccination point for polio drops during the next round of the polio campaign.


Carolyn Ure