Every time I hear POLIO, I think of these two young boys that I saw recently in a Congolese village. They are the only two children not standing erect. They were stricken and crippled by polio. Also, they were too poor and did not have access to braces. So they crawl around in the dirt and dust. BUT, they were lucky! They were alive!!
Health officials said "There is a serious outbreak of polio in the Republic of Congo:120 cases of acute flaccid paralysis (a syndrome related to polio) and eight deaths." I heard the story last week at a Rotary District 6560 meeting. Our Polio contact just mentioned southern Congo was the site. I thought it was about my Congo (the Democratic Republic of the Congo) instead of the other Congo (the smaller and northern neighbor, the Republic of Congo).
An epidemic akin to polio, which has raged for nearly two weeks in the main commercial city in southern Congo, Pointe-Noire, has already killed eight, and several dozen cases have been reported, say health officials.
"Patients admitted to hospitals have flu-like symptoms. They are also presenting with paralysis starting in the lower limbs which spreads to the upper limbs, "said Director-General of Health Alexis Elira Dockekias.
"This epidemic is related to the recent polio outbreak. The only difference is that this time the disease affects adolescents and adults, unlike polio which affects mainly the young and children," he said, adding that those affected by the epidemic are aged 15-45.
He called on the public "not to panic but to observe strict hygiene measures: boiling drinking water; washing vegetables properly; and cooking cassava [the staple food] thoroughly."