Guyana is to begin testing for the crippling poliomyelitis (polio) virus to prevent the resurgence of the disease in the same way yellow fever has raised its ugly head again, Public Health Minister Dr. George Norton announced at the weekend.
Addressing the graduation ceremony for 86 Cuban-trained Guyanese doctors, Norton said that although Guyana has maintained a polio-free status since 1962, he believed that the time has come to heighten surveillance against the potentially deadly disease.
“I also want to urge you to ensure that stool samples are taken from patients with flaccid paralysis so that they can be screened in search of polio,” he told the attendees who included the graduating doctors, members of the Cuban Medical Brigade in Guyana and top Cuban and Guyana government officials.
The Public Health Minister announced that his ministry was prepared to provide the transportation “to get these samples properly analysed.” “Let us be one hundred percent alert to avoid these situations,” said Norton.
The virus spreads from person to person and can invade an infected person’s brain and spinal cord, causing causing muscle wasting and paralysis.
He cautioned Guyana against becoming complacent, an attitude that has resulted in an outbreak of yellow fever in Angola, Africa. “We take it for granted and we see what happened with yellow fever only recently,” he said.
Guyanese travelling to certain countries are required to show proof that they have been vaccinated against yellow fever. Likewise, Guyana has since asked that inbound travelers mainly from Africa and Asia be vaccinated or be in possession of prophylaxis on arrival.