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  • 30 Dec 2019 12:11 PM | Anonymous

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    Poliomyelitis, or simply polio, is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus which affects the central nervous system.

    The poliovirus is usually spread via the faecal-oral route i.e. when food is contaminated through unhygienic preparation, or contaminated water is consumed.

    Humans with a healthy immune system can be carriers and not display any symptoms.


    Is there a Polio outbreak in the Philippines?


    The Philippines declared an outbreak of polio last September 19 as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO). The first case was confirmed to have originated in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao after 19 years. Historically, polio has been eradicated in the Philippines since 2000 largely due to the massive government and WHO campaign called the GPEI (Global Polio Eradication Initiative).

    How does Polio affect a person?


    Polio may start as a flu-like syndrome with fever, headache, gastrointestinal disturbance and body weakness. A small percentage of those affected may have irreversible symptoms of neck and back stiffness with or without paralysis affecting the legs.


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    What is the treatment for Polio?


    There is no cure for Polio once a person has been infected. The treatment is mainly supportive and is aimed at limiting or reducing the patient’s symptoms.


    How can the spread of Polio be prevented?


    Polio can be prevented through vaccination and good hand hygiene.

    Most adults are protected via the completion of the childhood immunization programme. Aside from proper vaccination, other ways to protect yourself and your loved ones include: proper handwashing with soap and water, ensuring that drinking water is safe and eating food that has been fully cooked.


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    How can travellers from the Philippines prevent the spread of Polio?


    As part of the campaign to stop the spread and eventually eradicate polio globally, travellers are highly advised to have a polio vaccination booster especially when travelling outside the Philippines. These vaccines are recommended to be given 4 weeks prior to travel or if you are in the Philippines for more than 4 weeks.

    The WHO further recommends proper documentation of polio vaccination on an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICPV) yellow card. This will give travelers scheduled to travel outside the Philippines proof of their immunization.

    Two forms of the vaccine are available: the oral polio vaccine (OPV) and the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).  OPV is given by mouth as the virus may thrive in the mouth and digestive tract thus providing immunity in these organs and decreases the risk of human-to-human transmission. IPV is injected on the arm and provides immunity in the blood and individual immunity.

    Adults who have completed polio vaccination during childhood only need one booster dose of the IPV as per the Philippines Department of Health. Adults who have had no previous vaccinations or have unrecalled status should receive 3 doses of the IPV.

    Dr. Irene Umayam, International SOS Philippines

  • 30 Oct 2019 9:27 AM | Anonymous

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    As an Emergency Physician people often ask me if they should get tested for Dengue when they run a high fever. Parents in particular, are naturally concerned about the Dengue outbreak and increasing number of cases in Metro Manila. For a potentially serious disease, Dengue Fever  has a very simple solution: early detection and hydration.

    What is Dengue and how does it spread?

    Dengue is a viral infection carried by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes which thrive in the tropics and subtropics.  

    It cannot be passed from one person to another by close contact but is transmitted by a mosquito first biting an infected person then biting a non-infected person. The Aedes mosquito thrives in urban areas and is a daytime feeder biting during the daytime and dusk.


    Is there a Dengue outbreak in the Philippines?


    The Philippines Department of Health announced a national Dengue epidemic in August 2019 due to a 98% increase in the number of new cases since January 2019. The highest number of cases were reported in Western Visayas and Calabarzon. 271,480 cases were reported with a 0.4% fatality rate.


    How does Dengue make a person feel?


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    Dengue Fever feels like a bad flu-like illness with fever, joint and muscle aches and general tiredness. Most patients with Dengue Fever get better on their own with rest and symptom management. More serious cases of Dengue can affect the blood clotting system producing a rash, bruising or bleeding gums and more systemic symptoms like vomiting and abdominal pain.


    How do I know if I have Dengue and what can I do?


    A person can contract Dengue 4 to 10 days after being bitten by a carrier mosquito. A fever above 38.5 °C or 101.3 °F can be associated with headache, joint pains, body weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or rashes. The fever may last 2 to 6 days.

    A doctor can do a Dengue NS1 blood test to detect the virus antigen. A full blood count is also done to monitor the white blood cell and platelet count.

    Paracetamol can be taken every 4-6 hours to help keep yourself more comfortable. Avoid ibuprofen containing medication as this can cause stomach irritation.


    What is the treatment for Dengue Fever?


    Most patients with Dengue Fever can be looked after at home where they can rest comfortably. They may be asked to attend a clinic for regular blood tests so that the doctor can monitor their progress closely. Only serious cases of Dengue Fever need hospital admission. The treatment is mainly supportive to control the symptoms e.g. pain management or fluid hydration. Serious cases may warrant blood transfusion if the blood test results become very abnormal.


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    How can the spread of Dengue be prevented?


    The Philippine Department of Health launched the 4-S program in February 2019. The 4-S programme is designed to encourage the public to;

    1. Search and destroy mosquito breeding sites
    2. Self-protect -  apply repellents and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
    3. Seek early consultation
    4. Support fogging and/or spraying




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    Dr. Irene Umayam, International SOS Philippines

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