The infected child has been given oral polio vaccination and is under surveillance.
The disease was believed to have been eradicated in Malaysia but, on 8 December 2019, the country’s Ministry of Health announced the country’s first case since 1992.
Testing found that the virus was genetically linked to poliovirus circulating in the Philippines.
The World Health Organization said that it is working closely with UNICEF and the other partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to support the Ministry of Health in responding to this outbreak.
Support is being delivered in the form of the provision of technical advice in the areas of surveillance and case detection, risk communication and immunisation response.
It is recommended that all children aged under five are vaccinated as they are most at risk of the disease.
In addition to Malaysia, polio outbreaks have been reported in a number of other Asian countries: Afghanistan, Burma (Myanmar), China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all travellers to these countries be vaccinated fully against polio.
Indeed, advice is that the polio vaccine is the number one method of prevention travellers can take. According to the CDC, adults who were fully vaccinated during childhood should receive an additional (single) lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine. Even if they were vaccinated as a child or have been sick with polio before, they may need a booster dose to make sure they are protected.
In addition, good hand washing practices can help prevent the spread of the disease. If there’s one thing we have learned from the coronavirus outbreak, it’s the importance of thorough handwashing!