Cebu’s Butuanon River Tests Positive For Poliovirus

The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that Cebu’s Butuanon River samples test positive for poliovirus. The Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) oversaw the testing of environmental samples from Mandaue City’s river.

(Polio Reappears In The Philippines After 19 Years)

In a statement released last February 15, the DOH assured that they are working closely with the World Health Organization to achieve an appropriate vaccination response. They are also assisting the cities of Cabanatuan and Mandaue in improving their Acute Flaccid Paralysis surveillance capacities. This would implicate the identification and reporting of poliovirus cases.

“It is important that we are able to timely detect any acute onset of paralysis in children – especially within our communities,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said in the statement. “We have evidence that the poliovirus continues to spread. Our aim is to promptly diagnose and treat all possible polio cases.”

In response to these results, local officials have restricted public access to the river. The ban extends to tributaries such as the Tipolo and Mahiga creeks. The river’s surroundings will be monitored by barangay tanods. A stronger push on poliovirus vaccination will also be carried out in Mandaue communities.

Signs and symptoms of polio include headaches, fever, stiff neck, vomiting and fatigue, and the onset of floppy arms or legs. Severe cases can lead to permanent paralysis or even death. It can be spread through food, water, or objects that have come in contact with the feces of an infected individual.

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