Thirteen polio cases in PNG affected with limb paralysis

Almost 300 000 children under the age of 5 in Morobe, Madang and Eastern Highlands Provinces were vaccinated in the first round of the polio campaign in Papua New Guinea. Picture: WHO

PORT MORESBY (THE NATIONAL) – Thirteen of the confirmed polio cases are affected with limb paralysis and can no longer use their legs, says national coordinator polio response Sibauk Bieb.

“The only different paralysis is the one on the nine-year-old boy from Enga who had paralysis in his breathing muscles but lost his life last month,” he said in an update.

“We have the 13 remaining.

“For the 13 with paralysis of the leg, the polio virus has affected their lower limbs and sometimes their upper limb and they cannot walk or move their legs easily.”

As of Sept 27, the country had confirmed 14 cases of polio: five in Eastern Highlands, three in Morobe, two in Enga, two in Madang, one in National Capital District and one in Jiwaka.

Most of the children are below five. Two are above five and these are in NCD and Enga.

Bieb said these children were not born with this virus and disability but were infected with the virus.

“The virus is live and active in the soil and water that the toilet stools of an affected person gets into,” he said.

“Children who play around on soil that has the stool of the infected child in it and don’t wash their hands are likely to catch the virus.

“If you know or see some people with some kinds of signs and symptoms of polio or any weakness in a child, bring them to your nearest clinic or health centre and have them tested.

“This will help us to know where and how this virus is spreading in the country.”

Meanwhile, polio is not a worry anymore for children who received vaccination Thursday at a drive for National Capital District hosted by City Pharmacy Ltd (CPL) at Central Waigani.

More than 200 children were vaccinated at the store front.

The company is supporting the government’s efforts to vaccinate every child in Papua New Guinea.

Nurse consulting for CPL Frances Kennedy said: “We are trying to support NCD with its drive to vaccinate all children under the age of 15.

“Three of the company’s nurses are assisting the team from the Department of Health.

“They can later lead in the company’s clinics in providing vaccination services.”

Kennedy added: “Every child that comes for vaccination receives a bottle of drink and biscuit.

“CPL will continue to provide whatever resources they can for the vaccination team.

“The clinics in CPL stores will provide vaccinations for polio in the coming weeks at an affordable rate for the general public.

“CPL is supporting Manus at the moment and is looking forward to doing that in other provinces as well.

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