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Ministry of Health confirms polio outbreak in Uganda

The Ministry of Health through it’s Director General Health Services Dr. Henry. G. Mwebesa has confirmed the out break of polio in Uganda, making it a public health emergency in the country.

Samples were collected from sewage plants in Bugolobi and Lubigi which are the two sentinel environmental surveillance sites in Kampala.

Results from the tests carried out at Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) confirmed a circulating vaccine derived polio virus type 2(cVDPV2). The virus detected has genetic linkage with a cVDPV2 strain that was reported in Sudan.

Dr. Mwebesa says “ Uganda and the entire world were certified by World Health Organization (WHO) as a wild-polio virus free in August 2020”.

“In response to the polio outbreak, the government of Uganda through ministry of health has heightened surveillance of polio in the country by intensifying search fro polio cases in all health facilities by reporting and investigation of all children under fifteen years with sudden onset of paralysis or weakness in the arms or legs”. Dr Mwebesa added.

“The ministry will conduct and national-wide Polio immunization campaign in October and December 2021 during which all health workers will visit house to house and vaccinate all children aged 5 and below against polio, all health workers participating in the campaign will wear masks and observe COVID-19 SOPs to ensure children are safely vaccinated”. He added.

He went ahead to encourage parents and guardians to ensure that all children under the age of five are fully immunized as per country’s routine immunization schedule.

“The ministry of Health will announce specific dates for the vaccination campaign”. He said.

What causes polio?

A virus called poliovirus causes polio. The virus enters the body through the mouth or nose, getting into the digestive and respiratory (breathing) systems. It multiplies in the throat and intestines.

Polio can be prevented by immunizing a child with approrpiate vaccination. There are currently two effective polio vaccines, the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) and the live attenuated oral polio vaccine (OPV). Is the polio vaccine safe? Oral polio vaccine is one of the safest vaccines ever developed.

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