Poliovirus has been discovered in samples of water scooped from some drains in the Sagnerigu Municipality and the Tamale Metropolis of the Northern Region.
The virus was discovered during routine surveillance carried out by the Northern Regional Health Directorate.
Samples tested by the Noguchi Memorial Center for Medical Research confirmed the presence of the virus in drains in Kobilmagu in the Tamale Metropolis and Nyanshegu in the Sagnerigu Municipality.
According to the Deputy Northern Regional Director in charge of Public health, Dr. Hilarious Abiwu, children in the area are at risk of contracting the virus.
He, however, noted that an investigation will be conducted in the areas where the virus was found to ensure all children under five are vaccinated against the poliovirus.
“We are going to be visiting the communities, look at most of the children within that environment, take samples from them and take them to the lab, to see whether children within that environment have had contact with the virus. We will also take a look at children under five, particularly children two years and younger, to see whether they have been fully vaccinated.”
He added that “The level of protection the children have will depend on their vaccination status, so that if we have children within those communities who have not been fully vaccinated, then we can intervene by organizing mass immunization campaigns to make sure that, most of the children in these environments get updated in terms of their vaccination so that we can protect them.”
Poliomyelitis, also known as polio, has the potential to affect the quality of life of children who contract the virus. The virus, which is a communicable disease, can also affect the spinal cord, causing paralysis.
The latest discovery of the virus in Nyashegu in the Sagnerigu Municipality has raised concerns among stakeholders in the health sector in the region, due to the numerous open drains which interconnect.
Most often, children who live along these drains are seen swimming and walking through the water, exposing them to the virus.
However, it is refreshing to note that no child has contracted the virus currently, according to officials.
“So the good thing is that, currently, it’s not like any child or any person has been affected with the poliovirus. We have identified its presence in the environment, and we want to take immediate steps, investigate and protect the children from getting exposed to it,” Dr Abiwu said.