Malaysia records first polio case in 27 years

Malaysia has reported the first case of Polio in 27 years, when a three-month-old Malaysian infant boy was diagnosed with polio. The last polio case in Asia-Pacific country occurred in 1992, and in 2000, after which the country was declared polio-free. In this recent case, the child was confirmed to be infected with vaccine-derived poliovirus Type 1 (VDPV1) on 6 December 2019.

Concern: Those who have been immunized/vaccinated will be protected from infection, but, in unsanitary environments, the virus can infect others who have not been immunised against polio and thus can spread in communities whose polio immunisation rates are below 95%. The longer the virus spreads in community, it will undergo genetic mutation until it once again becomes an active virus.

Also, the resurgence of Polio in Malaysia comes just months after Philippines, north of Borneo, reported its 1st cases of polio since 1993 in September 2019.

About Polio or poliomyelitis

It is a potentially deadly infectious disease caused by poliovirus. It can cause paralysis by invading a person’s brain and spinal cord. So far, the disease has no cure and can only be prevented through vaccination.

There are 3 serotypes of wild poliovirus: type 1, type 2, and type 3. Each type has slightly different capsid protein. Immunity to 1 serotype does not give confer immunity to other two. The vaccine-derived poliovirus Type 1 (VDPV1)  is classified as a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) Type 1. The cVDPV originates from poliovirus that has been weakened by orally-administered polio vaccine.

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