Paracetamol in syrup form is suspended until further notice in Gambia. This was decided by the country’s health authorities after several children died of acute kidney failure in recent weeks. Analysis of the patients’ stools revealed the presence of Escherichia coli bacteria. One of the potential causes under investigation is paracetamol syrup.
Diarrhea followed by acute renal failure. These are the two signs presented by all patients, reveals a report by health authorities published in August. A total of 28 children have died since July, raising questions and causing widespread concern in Gambia.
Escherichia coli bacteria, probable cause of death
In a statement this weekend, the Department of Health provided more details about the ongoing investigation. According to reports, Escherichia coli bacteria, which can cause kidney damage, was found in the stool of most patients. A bacterial infection is therefore the preferred cause.
Escherichia coli are a family of bacteria, some of which are naturally present in the human gut without harming it and others that can cause infections. Its most common manifestations are nausea, mild fever, headache, vomiting, severe stomach cramps and watery or bloody diarrhea.
The hypothesis of paracetamol syrup maintained, emphasis on hygiene rules
The appearance of Escherichia coli bacteria in the stools of patients does not rule out the hypothesis of paracetamol syrup among Gambian doctors. Indeed, the majority of these children received this medication in the days before their death. According to the Ministry of Health, ingestion of this painkiller has already caused epidemics of kidney failure in other countries.
The person in charge of operations, Dr. Mustapha Bittaye, also recalls in another statement that the recentrainy season and floods have brought the sewers to the surface. Several water points were therefore contaminated. Faced with this situation, the authorities call on the population to be vigilant and to respect strict hygiene measures.
This week, a team of experts from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, a U.S. federal agency, is expected in The Gambia.