PETALING JAYA: Two more children in Sabah have been confirmed to be infected with polio with genetic connection to cases in the Philippines, according to the Health Ministry.
They were discovered to be infected during the Health Ministry’s surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), which was conducted after a three-month-old Malaysian boy from Tuaran was found to have polio last December.
AFP is a clinical syndrome which is characterised by weakness of the muscles of respiration and swallowing.
Both children, aged 11 and 8 respectively, have never received any form of immunisation since birth.
The 11-year-old, who resides in Kinabatangan, Sabah, first suffered fever last Nov 17 and was subsequently admitted into the hospital on Dec 1 after complaining of pain in his back and trouble walking.
The eight-year-old, who resides in Sandakan, Sabah, first suffered fever on Dec 9 and was rendered immobile after three days. He is still being treated with respiratory aids in the hospital.
Health Ministry Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the faecal sample of the two had been sent to the World Health Organisation Polio Regional Reference Laboratory (WHO Polio RRL) in Melbourne, Australia for confirmation tests and genetic sequencing.
“On Jan 9, the virus isolates in both cases were confirmed to be polio positive by the WHO Polio RRL, ” he said in a statement issued on Friday (Jan 10).
“With the two new polio cases, the total number of polio cases are three. All patients are still receiving treatment in the hospital and their condition is stable, ” he added.
According to Dr Hisham, the polio virus detected in all three cases had a genetic connection to polio cases in the Philippines.
He also said that a detailed investigation was currently on-going in order to ascertain the case of infection in the two new cases.
“At present, as many as 705 people staying near the residence of the two children was checked but no more new AFP cases were detected.
“It was found that the polio immunisation in as many as 65 children had worn off. They were given polio vaccination injections using the DTaP-IPV-Hib vaccine.”
Dr Noor Hisham urged the public to take precautionary measures recommended by the Health Ministry, which included vaccinating their children and ensuring personal hygiene.
He also said the Health Ministry and other relevant ministries and government agencies would increase cooperation in tackling the spread of the polio virus.
The first polio case in Sabah was reported last Dec 7, which was the first in Malaysia after 27 years.
The last polio case in Malaysia occurred in 1992, and in 2000, the country was declared as being polio-free.