According to health officials, at least 26 polio cases have been reported in an ongoing outbreak between June 2018 and early March 2019. Reports indicate cases were confirmed in at least nine provinces throughout the country. Further spread of the disease in possible in the coming weeks and months.
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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