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BANJUL (Reuters) – Gambia on Tuesday ordered importers and shops to suspend sales of all brands of paracetamol syrup while the government investigates a suspected link between the medicine and the deaths of dozens of young children.

Last Thursday, the head of the West African country’s health service said it had launched the probe after a spike in cases of acute kidney injury among children under the age of five was detected in late July.

The medicines regulator, known as the Medicines Control Agency (MCA), said there was insufficient data to warrant a general ban on paracetamol syrups, a painkiller often used to treat fevers in children.

The children suffered symptoms including an inability to pass urine, fever and vomiting that quickly led to kidney failure.

It did not name any specific brands, but said some samples had been sent abroad for quality control testing.

Last week, World Health Organisation officials said the evidence pointed not to paracetamol but to an infectious origin such as polluted water, orlostat but emphasised there were many unanswered questions.

(Reporting by Pap Saine; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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