Gauteng sounds alarm over deadly virus

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pretoria - Health officials are on high alert following an outbreak of Acute Poliomyelitis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has left 85 people dead.

The Gauteng Health Department on Thursday said it had instructed workers in both public and private health sectors to be on the lookout for the disease.

The viral infectious disease spreads from person to person, primarily through the fecal-oral route. It originates from the polio virus and causes nerve damage, paralysis and muscle wasting.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, weakness and loss of function of limbs and muscle pain. People are encouraged to immediately seek medical attention at their local health facilities should they experience these symptoms.

The outbreak in the DRC is reportedly affecting mostly teenagers and adults. One hundred and eighty-four cases of Acute Flaccid Paralysis and 85 deaths have been recorded since Sunday. Two cases have been confirmed to have been caused by the Wild Polio Type1.

Health professionals in Gauteng have strengthened surveillance in order to rapidly detect any polio virus. Presented cases will also be thoroughly investigated including laboratory tests in order to prevent the spread.

The department also encourages people to wash their hands before eating as well as after using the toilet.