Health officials confirmed on Sunday, December 8, the presence of at least one polio case in Tuaran (Sabah state), the first case reported in the country in 27 years. The child was reportedly infected with a polio strain that shared genetic links with the virus detected in cases in the Philippines, which reported its first cases of polio since 1993 in September. Authorities estimate that anywhere from 23 to 199 children in the area where the affected child lived had not received the polio vaccine, exposing the area to further spread of the disease.
Malaysia was declared polio-free in 2000, after reporting its last known case of the disease in 1992.
Poliomyelitis, or polio, is an infectious disease caused by the transmission of the poliovirus through the intestines. The poliovirus is typically transmitted from one person to another by ingesting food or water containing infected fecal matter; in rare instances, it can be spread through infected saliva. Most poliovirus infections are asymptomatic while minor symptoms include fever, headache, and sore throat. One percent of infections enter the central nervous system, causing neck, back, and extremity pain, vomiting, and lethargy.
Individuals in Malaysia are advised to verify their vaccination status and monitor developments to the situation.