8 April 2003
The Gauteng health department has urged parents to ensure that their children are immunised to prevent them from contracting polio.
South Africa has not registered a new polio case since 1992, and aims to be declared polio-free by the World Health Organisation by the end of 2005.
Polio is a viral infection that can lead to permanent paralysis. It is caused by a virus which leads to the inflammation of the grey matter found in the spinal cord.
Most people infected with the virus show no symptoms, although others suffer from fevers, headaches, sore throats, nausea, constipation, abdominal pain, stiff necks, muscle weakness or paralysis.
The virus can be spread through germs from coughing or sneezing or oral transmission from dirty hands.
The department has urged parents and care-givers to ensure that all children under one year old are immunised, adding that failure to vaccinate children on time can have adverse consequences.
Children should be vaccinated when they are between five and eight weeks old. Repeat vaccination should be done within 21 days and not more than 60 days.
“A recent survey commissioned by the department found that most children were vaccinated in the province, but a significant number of them, about three out of 10, were not vaccinated on time to ensure good immunity”, the department said.