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Papua New Guinea

Active search for Acute Flaccid Paralysis in NCD

BY GRACE AUKA SALMANG

AN active search for more signs acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) is currently under way in the nation’s capital following the first case of polio in a six-year-old boy from the Five-Mile settlement.

According to EPI technical officer of World Health Organisation Dr Dessie Mekkonen, less than one per cent of people who are infected develop severe weakness called AFP. In a media polio background brief last week, Dr Mekkonen said the majority of people infected with polio do not have symptoms.

“I want to clarify that not all AFP cases are polio cases as there are many causes of paralysis,” he said.

“The term acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) is often used to describe a sudden onset, as might be found with polio and is the most common sign of acute polio, and used for surveillance during polio outbreaks.

“AFP usually affects the limbs, muscles of the head and neck and the diaphragm muscle that is used for breathing.

“Most people with AFP recover although the recovery is not complete in all people and some people can die.”

He said the doctors may suspect polio based on the person’s symptoms and signs; however, some other infections can cause similar symptoms.

He said AFP can also have other causes and these people need blood tests and stool tests to test if their symptoms are caused by poliovirus.

“There is no specific cure for polio and treatment is mainly to support cases with AFP while their weakness is severe and cases with AFP may require intensive care to assist breathing,” he said.

He said this was a very bad disease and it was the responsibility of the people and donor partners to work together to eradicate polio.

A nationwide polio vaccination campaign is planned for this month of September and October targeting 1,265,000 children under five years old.

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