THE DEPARTMENT of Health reported a case of polio this year after almost two decades of being free from the disease.

In a statement, the agency confirmed that the crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease is “re-emerging in the Philippines, 19 years after the country was declared polio-free by the World Health Organization (WHO).

One polio case was confirmed in Lanao Del Sur in southern Philippines, while the virus has been detected in samples tested from Manila sewages. Another case of polio was still being confirmed in Davao, it said.

Plio is caused by the poliovirus, which infects the brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis or even death. There are vaccines for polio but there are no known cures.

The WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released a joint statement on Thursday saying local government units must “ensure that vaccination campaigns are planned and implemented effectively.”

“Every community leader, religious leader and celebrity must mobilize their communities to participate in immunization activities,” they said. — Gillian M. Cortez