THE Health department yesterday confirmed a third case of polio this year after almost two decades since the country was declared free of the disease.

A four-year-old girl from the village of Datu Piang, Maguindanao province in southern Philippines is the third reported case of Type 2 Polio, it said in a statement. The first two cases reported last month were from the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Laguna.

“On Oct. 24, stool samples sent to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan tested positive for vaccine-derived poliovirus 2,” the agency said. The girl was never vaccinated, it added.

Polio is a disease caused by poliovirus and affects a person’s brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis or death.

The Health department said its officials and representatives from the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund will be in Datu Piang until Tuesday to address the outbreak.

More than 4,000 children below five years are expected to benefit from the agency’s oral vaccination drive in the village on Nov. 4 to 8, it said. — Gillian M. Cortez