Are you or your helper travelling to the Philippines? You’ll definitely want to make sure your polio vaccinations are up to date. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that there is currently an outbreak of polio there.
After being polio-free for nearly two decades, the country has had two cases in the past month. Now, the Philippines is trying to vaccinate more than a million children below the age of five. (In fact, there are people going door to door giving children droplets of the oral vaccine.)
Before you travel, it’s advisable to check your immunisation status, say the doctors at International Medical Clinic (IMC). If you are unsure, a booster may be advised.
What exactly is polio?
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease that has no cure. It is caused by the poliovirus, which is spread from person to person and can invade an infected person’s brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis.
The virus lives in an infected person’s throat and intestines, according to CDC. It enters the body through the mouth and spreads through contact with the faeces of an infected person and, though less common, through droplets from a sneeze or cough. It can also contaminate food and water in unsanitary conditions.
An infected person may spread the virus to others immediately before and about one to two weeks after symptoms appear. However, many infected people do not have any visible symptoms. About one in four people with the infection will have flu-like symptoms that may include sore throat, fever, fatigue, nausea, headache and stomach pain.
Some people with polio develop more serious symptoms that affect the brain and spinal cord: paresthesia (the feeling of pins and needles in the legs), meningitis (an infection of the spinal cord and/or brain) and paralysis or weakness in the arms, legs or both Paralysis can lead to permanent disability and death.
Before the creation of a global polio vaccine initiative, the disease paralysed more than 350,000 people annually, according to WHO. Now, though, polio can be prevented through vaccination.
It’s important that you and your children stay up to date with vaccination schedules, explains DR FOONG TSIN UIN, Deputy Medical Director of IMC.
“Polio is included in the five-in-one and six-in-one jabs, usually given to kids at two, four and six months, with a booster at 18 months to complete the four-dose course,” she says. “With the current outbreak of polio, WHO and CDC are recommending that the full primary course is completed.”
In addition, Dr Foong says the CDC is recommending that adults who are fully vaccinated consider an extra booster dose in adulthood.
IMC has four clinics across Singapore (IMC Camden, IMC Children’s, IMC Jelita and IMC Katong). If you would like to arrange a vaccination for yourself or someone in your household, contact IMC at 6733 4440 or visit imc-healthcare.com.
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