According to health officials, at least nine polio cases have been reported in an ongoing nationwide outbreak as of early September. The first case in the outbreak was reported on April 28. Since the beginning of the outbreak, three cases have been reported in Morobe province, two in Eastern Highlands, two in Madang, and two in Enga. To combat further spread of the disease and bolster immunization efforts, vaccination campaigns will be implemented nationwide in October.
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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