KUALA LUMPUR, December 9 — The World Health Organization (WHO) has offered assistance to Malaysia’s Health Ministry to respond to a polio outbreak reported in Sabah last week.
The global health body urged all parents and caregivers of children below five years to ensure that their offspring are fully vaccinated against the highly infectious disease, stressing that polio vaccines are safe and effective.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad revealed earlier today that a three-month-old Malaysian baby boy from Tuaran, Sabah, had received the first dose of a polio vaccine, but contracted the disease before the second dose could be administered.
The Sabah case was the first reported polio case in Malaysia 27 years after the last case in 1992, and 19 years after Malaysia was declared polio-free in 2000.
Tests showed the boy was infected with a polio strain that shared genetic links with the virus detected in the Philippine cases, which reported its first polio outbreak since 1993 in September. The Philippines, which is near Sabah, reported a fourth case last month.
Polio, which mainly affects children below five years of age, invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in hours. There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented through vaccination.