After nearly two decades of having been declared “polio free” by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Philippines is now experiencing its first polio outbreak in 19 years – and authorities are actually admitting that the cause was the polio vaccine itself!
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced at a recent press conference that at least one person, a three-year-old girl in the southern Lanao del Sur province, has contracted the virus, which has also been detected in waterways throughout the southern Davao region, as well as in sewage in Manila.
These three vector points are enough to declare an official polio outbreak, officials say, which is creating something of a panic as polio was previously thought to have been completely eradicated.
“As long as one single child remains infected, children across the country and even beyond are at risk of contracting polio,” added UNICEF Philippines representative Oyun Dendevnorov in a statement.
In a joint statement, both the WHO and UNICEF admitted that the type of poliovirus that’s currently spreading is vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2, which once again means that vaccines are the source and cause of this first-in-nearly-20-years polio outbreak.
“The weakened virus used in vaccines replicates for a short time in children’s intestines and is excreted in their feces,” writes Carley Petesch for the Associated Press (AP). “In rare instances … the weakened virus can strengthen in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene.”