KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — The Health Ministry has mobilised available measures to contain the possible re-emergence of the polio virus that was eradicated in Malaysia almost three decades ago.
After confirming the infection of a three-month-old boy in Tuaran, Sabah, the ministry tested 661 people in the surrounding areas up to December 7.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said all were found to be free of the virus.
“We have also taken faeces samples from 14 individuals with close contact with the child to detect any presence of polio. The results are expected to be ready in a week’s time.
“At the same time, two environmental samples from the case’s residential area and one sample from the district have been taken to detect any presence of polio. We expect the results to be ready in three weeks’ time.
“We are also monitoring the presence of the polio virus in wastewater samples in six selected wastewater treatment plants in Sabah. Up till today, there have been no wild cases of polio virus found in those samples,” Dzulkefly said in a statement.
The report from World Health Organisation (WHO) Polio Regional Laboratory in Australia on the affected infant said that the virus has a genetic connection to the polio virus found in the Philippines.
The Health Ministry is vaccinating children in the area who have not received the inoculation. As of December 7, 25 out of 214 children aged between two months to 15 years’ old were found to be unvaccinated.
All were foreigners but they were still given the vaccine.
The ministry will expand its vaccination operations to ensure that the virus will not spread.
Awareness programmes are also ongoing to ensure the residents there will take preventive measures.
The ministry stressed on the importance of immunisation, personal and environmental hygiene and to report any polio-like symptoms to the nearest government health facility.
Malaysia’s last polio case was detected in 1992 and the country had been considered polio-free since 2000. The vaccinations began in 1972.
“The Health Ministry would like to stress that the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) does not cause vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) because it contains polio virus that has been deactivated,” the minister said to stress that vaccinations were not the cause of the infant’s infection.