The Ministry of Health has announced that experts from the US Centres for Disease Control, are expected in the country in the next few days to support investigations into the Acute Kidney Injury outbreak that has led to the death of at least 28 children recently.
They will join senior doctors and experts from The Gambia’s Epidemiology and Disease Control Unit, the Medicines Control Agency, WHO, Unicef and hospitals in investigating the outbreak.
In an update issued yesterday, the director of Health Services, Dr Mustapha Bittaye explained that the high rains caused floods in many areas including Banjul which led to overflowing of sewage water and consequently many water points were contaminated.
Dr Bittaye added: “The country has witnessed a rise in the number of cases of diarrhoeal diseases especially in children, leading to death in some cases… Since July, there has been an increase in the number of severe kidney disease with high fatality among children mainly following diarroheal diseases. Bacterial infection (Escherichia coli) which also causes kidney damage was found in the stool samples of many of these children. This makes the bacterial infection a suspected cause of the Acute Kidney Injury.
“However, many of the children had also taken paracetamol syrup during their illness. Paracetamol syrup is known to have caused kidney injury in some countries. For that reason, the general public is advised to maintain strict hygiene and hand-washing at all times. Following the drying up of the stagnant water in the compounds, parents should not allow their children to crawl in the compounds and should prevent them from putting items they pick from the ground into their mouths. Their hands must be washed regularly. It is advised that the drinking water, especially that meant for children, should be boiled and cooled before drinking.
“We also advise that fruits and vegetables are to be washed thoroughly before eating. Mothers and caregivers are urged to wash hands with soap and water before and after preparing meals especially for children. Their hands must be thoroughly washed with soap and water before and after using the toilet.
“We would like to inform the general public that stool samples, blood samples and samples of medication taken, are undergoing analysis. Preliminary results have shown bacteria (E coli strains) that can cause kidney damage. For this reason, the above recommendation for hygiene should be strictly adhered to, to prevent the children from getting the bacterial infection. Since some paracetamol syrups have been found to cause kidney damage in some countries, and most of these children had also been given paracetamol syrup as part of their treatment, we are therefore suspending the use of paracetamol syrup nationwide while the reviews are carried out.”