The Department of Health (DOH) in MIMAROPA said its surveillance team for the polio-virus has recorded four cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) in Palawan.

MIMAROPA region medical officer Dr. Matthew Medrano said they are looking for AFP cases to determine if they are polio or not. Including those from Palawan, seven cases have been detected in the whole MIMAROPA.

“Kapag may kaso po ng polio ay hinahanap ni DOH ang mga batang 15 years old pababa na nakakaranas ng panghihina ng katawan kahit saang parte kasi isa ‘yon sa sintomas ng polio. Sa buong MIMAROPA ay may pitong nakitaan ng ganoong sintomas, sa pito na ‘yon ay apat ang sa Palawan pero nong na-examine natin ay mabuti na lang at hindi sila nag-positibo sa polio,” he said during the Kapihan on Wednesday by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).

Medrano said the DOH’s mass polio immunization program is targeting to saturate all municipalities and barangays in Palawan following the return of the disease after 19 years and the declaration of the outbreak.

He said they have so far covered 45 percent of Puerto Princesa and 42 percent of Palawan, which are still far yet from their 95 percent target.

Oral polio vaccine (OPV), Medrano said, should be given to children one and a half-month-old, two and a half, three and a half. Along with the third dose of OPV is a shot of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) as additional protection.

“We are targeting 95 percent na immunization coverage, sa Palawan its 42 percent and 45 percent sa Puerto Princesa City ang naco-cover natin. Medyo mababa pa ‘yan kasi may mga hinihintay pa tayo na report at alam niyo naman na medyo magkakalayo ang mga lugar dito sa Palawan. Ang polio immunization kasi ay may tatlong stages, dapat lahat ‘yon mabibigay natin,” he said.

Polio outbreak was declared in the country on September 19 by the DOH. Children without any dose of the OPV can be at risk of lifelong paralysis, the health department warned.

Medrano said one case is enough to declare an outbreak because based on the epidemic threshold, the Philippines has been declared polio-free since 2000.

“One positive case of polio will warrant a declaration of outbreak. It is 19 years na wala, as in zero tayo, kaya noong nagkaroon ay we immediately declared an outbreak kasi kung titingnan mo wala na dapat pero nagkaroon pa rin, alarming ‘yon,” Medrano said.

They are urging parents and caregivers of the children under one year old to complete their vaccination against polio.

Medrano said that although there is no cure for polio, it can be prevented with free doses of polio vaccines that are available in health centers.