A third case of polio was officially confirmed on August 3 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Papua New Guinea health officials. The new case, in Mulitaka (Enga Province), is genetically linked to the two previously confirmed cases in Lae (Morobe province). The first case in the outbreak was reported on April 28 in Morobe province and officially confirmed on June 26, while the second case was confirmed in July. The third affected individual, a three-year-old boy, began to exhibit symptoms on June 30, and suffered the onset of paralysis on July 2. No other regions are currently being impacted by the virus. To combat further spread of the disease and bolster immunization efforts, over 600,000 vaccines have been distributed in Papua New Guinea since July 16.
Prior to this most recent outbreak, Papua New Guinea had maintained a polio-free status since 2000. According to local authorities the polio vaccination rate in Morobe province is particularly low.
Poliomyelitis is an acute communicable disease caused by a human enterovirus of the Picornaviridae family. Poliovirus is transmitted from one person to another by oral contact with secretions or fecal material from an infected person. Most poliovirus infections cause asymptomatic viral replication that is limited to the alimentary tract. However, following an incubation period of approximately 7-10 days (although it can range 4-35 days), about 24 percent of those infected develop clinical signs such as fever, headache, and sore throat (considered a minor illness).
Individuals in Papua New Guinea are advised to verify their vaccination status and monitor developments to the situation.
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