KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 317 cases of Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP), which is an acute symptom similar to the polio virus, were reported in the country from Jan 1, 2019 until Oct 16 this year.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the data is obtained from the ministry’s surveillance in monitoring AFP to detect polio cases among children who are below the age of 15 through stool samples.
“Out of the total, four cases were confirmed polio, and all are reported in Sabah, involving a three-month old, a three-year-old, an eight-year-old and an 11-year-old. The last case started to experience symptoms of paralysis on Jan 18 (this year).
“Out of the four cases, one case is still being treated in the hospital as the patient needs respiratory aid, while the other three cases need walking aid as their legs are still weak,” he said in a statement in conjunction with the World Polio Day celebration, themed Stories of Progress: Past and Present, today.
According to Dr Noor Hisham, as of last Oct 19, a total of 815,790 children (95.6%) in Sabah had received two doses of bivalent oral polio vaccine (OPV) type 1 and type 3, while 687,500 (80.6%) had received two doses of monovalent OPV type 2.
In Labuan, he said, a total of 24,248 children had been vaccinated with two doses of bivalent OPV during the Polio Immunisation campaign, conducted since June 11 this year.
He said the administration of the five vaccine series (DTaP-IPV/Hib), which contain polio antigen components, to children aged two, three, five, and 18 months under the National Immunisaton Programme is being enhanced in Sabah and Labuan.
“This is to ensure every child is optimally protected from polio infection. The oral polio vaccine given through the Polio Immunisation campaign is an additional polio vaccine to ensure the transmission of the polio virus can be stopped.
“For children in other states, parents must make sure that their children receive the five vaccine series based on the given schedule,” he added.
Dr Noor Hisham said a total of 558 samples of sewage water had been taken from all over the country from Jan 1, 2019 until Sept 30 this year for sewage water sampling and to detect polio virus in the environment.
The virus had been detected in 24 of the samples taken in Sabah and one sample in Labuan, with the last sample detected positive with polio virus in environment taken on March 13, he added.
Polio is an infectious disease that attacks the nerve system and can cause permanent paralysis, besides causing breathing failure and death.
Meanwhile Dr Noor Hisham said due to the enforcement of Movement Control Order (MCO) and following the spike of Covid-19 cases in Sabah, the Polio Immunisation campaign activities in areas with high number of cases have been postponed.
He said the campaign, implemented in stages since Dec 27 last year, involved the administration of oral polio vaccine (OPV) to children aged 13 years and below in Sabah.
“The enforcement of MCO since March 18 had slowed down the campaign activities, but the programme was re-intensified during Recovery MCO by observing the new norms and the prescribed standard operating procedure (SOP) to prevent the Covid-19 infection.
“In effort to ensure the polio outbreak can be stopped, the risk of Covid-19 transmission must also be given attention. Despite many constrains, the campaign coverage was good,” he added. — Bernama