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Bull World Health Organ. 1980;58(2):285-91.

Injections and paralytic poliomyelitis in tropical Africa.


A case-control study was conducted in Yaoundé, United Republic of Cameroon, to evaluate the hypothesis that intramuscular inoculations predisposed young children to paralysis if they were later exposed to poliomyelitis virus. Thirty-three cases with lower motor neuron disease and 66 neighbourhood controls were studied. Poliovirus was isolated from 39% of the paralytic cases but from only 18% of the comparison group. Controls were more likely to have had serological evidence of previous exposure to all three poliovirus types while most of the paralytic cases had been exposed to a poliovirus for the first time. Two-thirds of the paralytic cases but only 11% of the comparison group had been ill, visited a medical facility, and received multiple injections, primarily with quinine and penicillin, in the month prior to the onset of poliomyelitis. There was a strong temporal relationship between these injections and the onset of paralysis. The increased relative risks (15 and 32, respectively) of paralysis associated with inoculations in the two weeks immediately prior to onset of disease were felt to represent the treatment of symptoms related to poliomyelitis. However, the increased relative risks (13 and 27, respectively) three and four weeks prior to onset were felt to be consistent with the hypothesis that intramuscular injections provoked paralysis. Overestimation of this measure of the effect because of bias in the control group is discussed.

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