Friday, November 5, 2010

Epidemic from virus similar to polio kills 8 in Congolese city

From Afrique en ligne:

CONGO - An epidemic, similar to poliomyelitis, which has been ravaging Pointe-Noire, Congo's major economic and industrial centre, for nearly two weeks, has killed eight people, the Congolese Ministry of Health announced here Nov. 2. About 20 new cases have also been reported, the ministry said.

'Patients admitted in hospitals exhibit influenza-like symptoms. They also have paralyses affecting lower limbs first before reaching the others,' said Congo's Director General of Health, Pr. Alexis Elira Dockekias.

'This epidemic is similar to polio, which is already prevalent here, with the sole difference being that it affects adolescents and adults, unlike polio, which mainly affects youth and children,' said Dockekias.

According to the Congolese health official, the disease is probably caused by a virus that affects the digestive tract.

The Congolese Ministry of Health has already referred the issue to the World Health Organization (WHO), pursuant to international health measures relating to epidemics.

However, Dockekias urged the Congolese people not to panic but to observe basic hygiene measures by drinking clean water only.

'Water must be boiled before consumption, one can also use the products recommended by health services to citizens,' he said.

Due to the scarcity of potable water in some districts of Pointe-Noire, especially on the outskirts, people sometimes consume water from wells and some poorly maintained boreholes, which, during the rainy season, are hotbeds for the propagation of many parasites, bacteria and viruses that cause epidemics.