First it was Philippines in the later part of the year, now Malaysia
too is witnessing cases of polio
re-emerging in its country after almost 27 years. Malaysia
has reported its first polio
case in 27 years, health authorities said yesterday, announcing a three-month-old baby had been diagnosed on Borneo island.
Malaysian health ministry's director-general, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, said the baby from Tuaran in eastern Sabah state had been admitted into intensive care after experiencing fever and muscle weakness.
Dr Noor Hisham told Thailand Medical
News, "The patient is currently undergoing treatment in an isolation ward and is in a stable condition but needs respiratory support. The infant was diagnosed last Friday and we suspect that there could be more cases in the area."
is a highly infectious viral disease which has no cure and can only be prevented with several doses of oral and injectable vaccines. It affects the nervous system and spinal cord and can be fatal in rare cases.
In the past three decades the world has made great strides in the battle against polio
. The World Health Organization said only 33 cases were reported worldwide last year. Malaysia was declared polio free in 2000. The last case in the country occurred in 1992.
The case in Malaysia
comes after the Philippines, which shares a close sea border with Sabah, was hit in September by its first polio
case in nearly two decades followed by a few more cases. Noor Hisham said test results showed that the Malaysian child was infected with a polio
strain that shared genetic links to the virus detected in the Philippines.
Malaysian Public health expert Dr T. Jayabalan said that he was not surprised by the polio
outbreak because immunisation was not mandatory in Malaysia."This first case probably is the tip of the iceberg. There is a very high possibility of a rising trend," he warned.
Dr Jayabalan said there was a small group of people who refuse vaccination on account of misinformation.
In the last few years, Malaysia had recorded a number of deaths among children from diphtheria, a vaccine-preventable disease, because they did not receive immunisation.
Dr Noor Hisham said investigations found that 23 children under the age of 15 who lived close to the infected baby had also not received the polio
vaccine. "This is a frustrating situation because the spread of the disease... can only be stopped with polio
immunisation."Vaccination activities and monitoring will be carried out to try and contain the spread of the disease, he added.