The type 2 polio virus has been discovered in the West African country of The Gambia, Gambia’s Health Minister Dr. Amadou Lamin Samateh told Freedom Newspaper in an interview. Samateh says the virus was detected following some test samples that were sent to Senegal.
“It is the polio virus type 2 that has been discovered in the environmental surveillance. So, it is not it is from individuals per say directly but you know we introduced what we called environmental sampling, so, these sewage samples were taken from Banjul and Kotu and they were sent to the refresh laboratory in Senegal, which detected this Seno virus, which has been linked during the sequencing to the strain that was identified in Senegal, and Guinea,” Samateh remarked.
Gambia’s Health Ministry says it is yet to determine the source of the recent polio transmission.
“The assumption is of course it was detected here in sewage but whether the people were on transit from any of these countries to the other, or whether the individuals are resident in The Gambia at that we not been able to determine yet,” said Dr. Samateh.
The tiny West African nation was certified polio free in 2004. The last detected polio case was recorded in 1986.
Meanwhile, the government has declared a national health emergency. It is planning to vaccinate 380,000 Children in coming days.
“We are working very hard in collaboration with the World Health Organization and UNICEF and all other partners and other countries are also engaged, so, we going to do a massive immunization campaign that is going to cover up to 380,000 children, age between 0-59 months in this country to give them the novel oral polio vaccine.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) (Source: https://www.who.int/health-topics/poliomyelitis#tab=tab_1 ) the newly found virus mainly affects children under the age of five years and it is transmitted by person to person.
“We want the public to know that there is no cause for alarm, but the basic protective mechanisms are very important, food personal hygiene, because we know the route transmission is fecal oral especially when people’s hands are contaminated with feaces,” Samateh.
The polio virus has been steadily transmitting across the continent. The Gambian Health Minister has appealed to parents to vaccinate their children.
Few days ago, the Freedom Newspaper reported about some suspected polio cases being discovered in The Gambia. At the time of our reportage, the Health Minister Amadou Lamin Samateh said the suspected cases were being tested at a Dakar lab.
The test results were officially disclosed today.