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Malaysia vaccinating for polio after first case in 27 years

By AP

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A Congolese child is given a polio vaccination at a relief camp near Gisenyi, Rwanda. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo, File)

(AP) — Malaysia began a vaccination campaign in a rural town on Borneo island after a 3-month-old boy was confirmed to have polio in the country’s first case of the highly infectious virus in 27 years.

The infant from Tuaran town in Sabah state tested positive for vaccine-derived polio virus type 1 on Friday after he was hospitalised with fever and muscle weakness.

He is on respiratory support but his condition is stable, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said in a statement Monday.

Malaysia is the second Asian country to have reported a polio case after an outbreak in the Philippines in September.

The World Health Organization says polio, which has been largely eradicated, remains endemic in only Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Dzulkefly said tests showed the baby’s strain had genetic links to the polio virus detected in Philippines and investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of the infection.

Malaysia’s last polio case occurred in 1992 and the country was declared polio-free in 2000.

The health ministry said the strain was believed to have originated from a weakened virus contained in oral polio vaccine that was excreted from the body through feces and possibly spread in an unsanitary environment to those who haven’t been immunised.

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