Sep 21, 2019

Polio returns to Philippines after 19-year absence

A child is given an oral vaccination as part of a campaign against polio and the Measles in Manila in 2014. Photo: Gregorio B. Dantes Jr./Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Philippines reported 1 confirmed case of polio on Thursday alongside another suspected case, marking a "re-emergence" of the vaccine-preventable disease in the country, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Health Secretary Francisco Duque blamed the return of the disease, among other reasons, on "'poor immunization coverage,' a lack of sanitation and proper hygiene and poor surveillance by health workers," per the Times.

Where it stands: The World Health Organization plans to launch a new polio vaccination campaign alongside the country's government in response to the outbreak, according to Duque, and UNICEF will work with the country's health department. WHO declared the Philippines free of polio 19 years ago.

  • The confirmed case in Lanao del Sur, a southern province, involves a 3-year-old girl, according to Duque. The other case involves "acute flaccid paralysis" and has not yet been confirmed.
  • “A single confirmed polio case of vaccine-derived polio virus type 2 or two positive environmental samples that are genetically linked isolated in two different locations is considered an epidemic in a polio-free country,” Duque told the Times.

Go deeper: CDC seeks cause of polio-like illness, urges quick reporting

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NY officials: Major measles outbreak is over as countdown continues

Waiting for patients at the Rockland County Health Department in April. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

Health officials from Rockland County — the New York community that's been a focal point in the recent battle over measles due to its low vaccination rate — announced Wednesday that the outbreak there is over.

Why it matters: The latest measles outbreak in America is the largest since 1992, and public health officials have been concerned the U.S. could lose the "measles elimination status" it earned in 2000. But the U.S. may "scrape through just under the wire" and retain its status as long as no new cases are reported in New York state in September, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells Axios.

Go deeperArrowSep 25, 2019

U.S. likely to retain measles elimination status — but barely

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York says it has reached a "milestone" in halting the measles outbreak that started in October 2018, and U.S. public health officials now believe the country has retained its measles elimination status — just barely meeting the year deadline, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Yes, but: Recent cases reported from returning international travelers demonstrate the danger of new outbreaks when there are still pockets of communities with low vaccination rates. Despite measles being mostly preventable, the combination of the anti-vaccination movement and vaccine hesitancy places several communities at risk.

Go deeperArrowOct 3, 2019

Congo approves second Ebola vaccine to fight the deadly virus

Preparing an Ebola vaccination in Goma in August. Photo: Augustin Wamenya/AFP/Getty Images

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has decided to allow a second Ebola vaccine to be distributed to certain areas of its country — a move that the World Health Organization praised as a key tool to halting further expansion of the deadly virus.

Why it matters: The DRC initially resisted some of the recommendations from the WHO, including one to approve testing another experimental vaccine. But DRC's new leader of the Ebola response in the Ministry of Health is trying new activities to halt the outbreak, which as of Sept. 19 killed about 2,111 people and infected roughly 3,157 people (in both probable and confirmed infections).

Go deeperArrowSep 23, 2019