Two more polio cases discovered in Sabah, disease linked to Philippines strain

Malaysian health authorities are reporting another two cases of polio in Sabah, which they believe to be connected to a series of cases that have recently sprung up in the Philippines.

Last December, Malaysia’s Health Ministry reported that decades after the country was declared polio-free, a 3-month-old child in the Borneo state of Sabah was diagnosed with the disease. Since the confirmation of his diagnosis, officials have been conducted screenings for acute flaccid paralysis in the area, turning up the latest two cases as a result.

Medical staff have confirmed that the two individuals affected had never been immunized against polio.

One of the cases, an 11-year-old from Kinabatangan, began to experience symptoms in mid-November, and was taken to hospital complaining of back pains and difficulty walking. The second case, an 8-year-old from Sandakan, began to suffer from a fever on Dec. 9, and within three days, could not move. He is still in hospital, and is unable to breathe normally without medical equipment.

Stool samples from both cases were sent to the World Health Organization’s Polio Regional Reference Laboratory (WHO Polio RRL) in Melbourne, Australia, where they confirmed the diagnosis, as well as the genetic sequencing of the disease, linking it back to the outbreak in the Philippines.

“On Jan. 9, the virus isolated in both cases was confirmed to be polio positive by the WHO Polio RRL,” Health Ministry Director-General Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement issued today.

“All patients are still receiving treatment in the hospital and their condition is stable.”

Health officials’ checks in at-risk areas have also so far found that 65 children’s immunizations had worn off. These individuals were then given an additional injection of the vaccine.

Polio has no cure, and the only way to prevent outbreaks of the disease is through systematic immunization, something Malaysia introduced on a national level way back in 1972. The last recorded case of polio was in 1992, and in 2000, we were declared “polio-free.”

However, this doesn’t mean it’s OK to stop immunizing your kids, despite what the anti-vaxxers might have you believe. So do the right thing and get your shots, and make sure your kids get their shots too. Ain’t nobody got time for retro disease resurgences.

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