Morobe polio case confirmed


The Department of Health and World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed yesterday that a case of polio has been detected in Morobe.
In a joint statement, they said the virus was first detected in a child in April and a vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (VDPV1) was isolated as the cause of paralysis in May.
The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention later confirmed that the same virus was also found in specimens of two healthy children from the same community representing an outbreak.
Health secretary Pascoe Kase said they were concerned .
He said the priority now was to respond and prevent more children from being infected.
WHO and the Health Department have been working together with other partners to conduct a large-scale immunisation campaign and strengthen surveillance systems that would detect the virus.
Outbreak response activities were ongoing with experts from the Health department, PNG Central Public Health Laboratory, WHO and provincial health authorities conducting field missions for clinical investigation, sample collection and contact tracing.
They were also collecting stool specimens from family members of patients and the community in a “mop-up” immunisation campaign targeting children.
More than 845 children have been vaccinated in the Lufa mountain settlement.
WHO representative Dr Luo Dapeng said they had been working with the government on investigation, laboratory confirmation, enhanced surveillance and response activities and would continue to ensure that children were protected.
Dapeng said PNG has not had a case of wild polio since 1996 and was certified as polio-free in 2000.
The polio vaccination coverage in Morobe was low with 61 per cent of children having received the recommended three doses, Dapeng said.