Polio – Gambia The
The Gambia reported a local outbreak of poliovirus from sewage samples in the capital Banjul and the beach-resort area of Kotu for poliovirus type 2.
The government is planning a mass vaccination campaign to curb the outbreak. Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus that infects the nervous system and can lead to irreversible paralysis. Polio is transmitted when the faecal contaminants of the infected person reaches the water or food of a healthy person.
It mainly harms young children but can be prevented with a highly effective and very cheap vaccine.
Although the Gambia has been declared polio-free in 2004, the current outbreak needs stricter measures to break the chain at its earliest.
Photo: Polio virus, colorized.
Poliomyelitis, commonly shortened to polio, is an infectious disease caused by a virus. In about 0.5 percent of cases, it moves from the gut to affect the central nervous system and there is muscle weakness. Many people fully recover. However, years after recovery, post-polio syndrome may occur, with a slow development of muscle weakness similar to that which the person had during the initial infection.
The disease is preventable with the polio vaccine; however, multiple doses are required for it to be effective.
Poliomyelitis has existed for thousands of years, with depictions of the disease in ancient art. The disease was first recognized as a distinct condition by the English physician Michael Underwood in 1789 and the virus that causes it was first identified in 1909 by the Austrian immunologist Karl Landsteiner. The first polio vaccine was developed in the 1950s.
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