Cebu’s Butuanon River now off-limits after its water tested positive for poliovirus

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 17) — Local officials have restricted public access to Butuanon River in Cebu City after its water tested positive for the poliovirus.

Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes said the ban includes tributaries such as the Tipolo and Mahiga creeks.

The order was made after a meeting with Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella and Department of Health-Central Visayas director Jaime Bernadas.

Cortes said barangay tanods will monitor the river surroundings.

He added an intensified vaccination against polio will be carried out in Mandaue communities.

Meanwhile, Bernadas reminded the public to avoid contact with the river water. He said anyone who gets in contact with the water can become a carrier of the virus though not necessarily infected with polio.

The disease first reemerged in the country in September last year, nearly two decades after it was eradicated. The DOH immediately declared a polio outbreak after reporting the first confirmed case which was a three-year-old girl in Lanao del Sur.

The World Health Organization said polio mainly affects children under 5 years of age. One in 200 infections leads to irreverisble paralysis, and in some cases, polio can be fatal.

There is no cure for polio, though it can only be prevented by multiple doses of vaccine.

The virus spreads mainly through the fecal-oral route but less frequently, through contaminated water or food.