By Judith Akolo/Rose Gakuo
The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) has destroyed samples of the polio virus known scientifically as polio isolates it has been using to research on polio.
The over 1000 isolates or samples of the virus weighing some 35 kilograms were destroyed after KEMRI completed its research into the virus and how to control it.
“The polio virus is very lethal and after having used the samples to do our research we have decided to completely destroy it so that it does not land into the wrong hands,” said KEMRI Communications Officer James Wodera.
The samples had been got from various patients who had shown signs of the disease.
The move conforms to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) resolution that that once specimens have been used, they must be destroyed to avoid accidental or deliberate reintroduction of to the virus into the population.
The specimens are from polio strain type 3 which medical experts say has nearly been phased out.
According to officials from the Ministry of Health, the exercise will help prevent the reintroduction of the strain which is nearly eradicated across the globe.
Nathan Bakyaita an official of WHO lauded the move by the Ministry of Health to destroy the samples.
The government will however continue its vaccination drive to completely eradicate polio in the country.
Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis, is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus.
In about 0.5% of cases there is muscle weakness resulting in an inability to move. This can occur over a few hours to few days. The weakness most often involves the legs and most people do not fully recover.
The Poliovirus is usually spread from person to person through infected fecal matter entering the mouth. It may also be spread by food or water containing human feces and less commonly from infected saliva.
Those who are infected may spread the disease for up to six weeks even if no symptoms are present.
The disease may be diagnosed by finding the virus in the feces or detecting antibodies against it in the blood. The disease only occurs naturally in humans.
The disease is preventable through vaccination using the polio vaccine and a number of doses are required for it to be effective.
The United States Center for Disease Control recommends polio vaccination boosters for travelers and those who live in countries where the disease is occurring because once infected there is no specific treatment.