Polio, the deadly viral disease that was once the leading cause of paralysis among children worldwide, is very close to being eradicated. Photo: unicef.org

KOTA KINABALU: No new cases of polio have been reported in Sabah so far, said Sabah Health and People’s Well-Being Minister Datuk Poon Ming Fung.

He said a three-month-old baby boy from Tuaran who was infected with the polio virus was now hospitalised and held in an isolation room. He is now in stable condition although still on respiratory aid.

The Sabah Health Department (JKNS) is continuing with preventive and control measures, including detecting for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) to determine polio infections among children.

“A total of 1,553 people have been examined and none were found with AFP,” he told reporters after viewing the smoking ban at eateries in Jalan Gaya here today.

Polio, the deadly viral disease that was once the leading cause of paralysis among children worldwide, is very close to being eradicated. Photo: unicef.org

On Dec 8, the media reported that a three-month-old baby boy from Tuaran was infected with the polio virus, making this the first case after 27 years Malaysia was declared free of the disease.

Poon said the JKNS was continuing its investigations to determine the cause of infection, including taking samples of faeces from 20 persons of close contact with the baby, and sending them for laboratory tests, as well as six environment samples to detect the presence of the polio virus.

“So far, no polio virus has been found in the environment samples,” he said, adding that as of Dec 14, 59 children aged between two months and 15 years in the area who had been overlooked for immunisation have been given the polio vaccine. All were non-citizens.

He said detailed planning was being drawn up to provide additional immunisation to all children below the age of five in Sabah and the programme would be implemented as soon as possible to prevent the spread of the polio virus.

Poon said polio was an infectious disease which could be prevented through immunisation and parents are urged to ensure that children who are overlooked for immunisation are immediately taken to the nearest health facility.

He also reminded the public to observe hygienic practices for themselves and the environment, including washing their hands and using clean toilets as the polio virus could spread through hands, items such as toys, and food or drinks contaminated with faeces with the polio virus.

Local residents are also advised to get immediate treatment at the nearest health facilities if they have AFP, and to inform the health authorities if they know of untreated cases, he said. – Bernama