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Nairobi on high alert as new polio virus is discovered in Eastleigh

Thursday May 10, 2018
By Mercy Kandie

A UNICEF sponsored vaccination program in Eastleigh, Nairobi. TWITTER

Nairobi has been put on high alert following the discovery of a new strain of polio.

The Ministry of Health now says it is putting all its resources to a campaign aimed at vaccinating 800, 000 children in the city after the polio virus was discovered in Eastleigh area.

The launch of the campaign was informed by the discovery of a rare strand of polio in sewage samples taken from Eastleigh estate.

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“We took samples to Atlanta executive… it’s a type 2 virus, it has potential to paralyze children,” says Dr. Daniel Lang’at.

The detection of this polio strand is an unsettling setback on years of hard work to eradicate the disease after the last case of polio in Kenya was reported in 2013, with 14 people found to have been infected with polio from Somalia then.

“The large population in Eastleigh is migrants… and our vaccination coverage in Eastleigh is not good,” added Lang’at.

The ministry now says the prolonged doctors and nurses strike may partly be responsible for the drawback. The discovery, thus, means that the Ministry of Health cannot put breaks on immunization campaigns since the virus detected in Eastleigh has the potential of causing an outbreak and mutates easily.

“In June we will have another campaign targeting 11 counties, Nairobi included, then have 2.5 million children vaccinated,” added Lang’at.

Polio is caused by a virus that spreads between people although it can survive in water and sewage. A series of vaccines can protect a person for life, but babies too young to have been vaccinated and children who haven’t had the full course are vulnerable.

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