After poliovirus found in Butuanon: 3 rivers off limits
The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that water samples from the Butuanon River in Mandaue City tested positive for poliovirus.
Joy Torrejos

After poliovirus found in Butuanon: 3 rivers off limits

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - February 17, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Mandaue City will declare three of its rivers – Butuanon, Mahiga, and Tipolo – including the tributaries, off limits to the public following findings that the Butuanon River is positive of the poliovirus.

Atty. John Eddu Ibañez, chief of staff of Mayor Jonas Cortes, said they will convene the Butuanon River Management Board today to discuss the issue.

They will also meet with Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella for coordination because the Butuanon River traverses Mandaue and Cebu City.

The positive side of the findings, Ibañez said, is that they came early.

"While it is most unfortunate that this news came at the time when we are still reeling from the effects of COVID-2019, it is good that we knew of this the earliest in order for us to align our time and resources to address this concern," he said.

"We will ramp up our vaccination campaign and information dissemination against polio and other preventable diseases," he added.

Last Saturday night, the Department of Health through the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) announced that environmental samples from Butuanon River tested positive for poliovirus.

Ibañez said Mandaue will coordinate closely with DOH and the national government for the city to be advised on how to address the concern best.


In a statement, DOH said it is coordinating with the World Health Organization (WHO) for an appropriate vaccination response.

DOH is assisting the Cities of Cabanatuan and Mandaue in strengthening their Acute Flaccid Paralysis surveillance capacities, including their identification and reporting mechanisms.

“It is important that we are able to timely detect any acute onset of paralysis in children - especially within our communities. We have evidence that the poliovirus continues to spread. Our aim is to promptly diagnose and treat all possible polio cases,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

DOH said it continues to implement the Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio (SPKP) campaign in the National Capital Region and all regions in Mindanao. The succeeding SPKP round will run from February 17 to March 1 in all regions in Mindanao and from February 24 to March 8 in Metro Manila.

DOH said polio is a fatal and disabling disease caused by poliovirus, which is transmitted when there is poor environmental sanitation and hygiene. Vaccination is the best preventive measure against polio and children under one year old should complete their three doses of OPV and one dose of the Inactivated Polio Vaccine, the department said.

DOH has reported one confirmed polio case in Nueva Ecija, bringing the total number of polio cases in the country to seventeen.

Polio's outbreak was declared in the Philippines in September 2019, the first recorded case in decades. Prior to this, the last documented case in the country was in 1993.

There is no known cure for the highly infectious virus, which can cause paralysis and even death in extreme cases.

“We continue to remind parents and caregivers to bring their children to health centers for their polio drops and shot as part of the routine immunization program," Duque said. — with

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