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Monkeypox outbreak hits Nigeria

A NEW virus suspected to be Monkeypox
has hit Nigeria as an 11 year old boy patient
infected with the virus was presented at the
Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital,
Yenago in Bayelsa State.
According to a press release from the
National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC,
the agency was notified on the 22nd of
September of a case of suspected Monkeypox
in an 11 year old boy in Bayelsa State and
11 other cases which are currently receiving
medical treatment.
Further the NCDC said that another
32 dose contacts of the cases have been
identified, advised and closely monitored.
The NCDC said it has deployed a Rapid
Response Team to support the Bayelsa State
government for further investigations and
public health response to the outbreak.
Bayela State Commissioner for Health,
Professor Ebitimitula Etebu who confirmed
the epidemic said that samples of the
virus had been sent to the World Health
Organisation laboratory in Dakar, Senegal
for further confirmation.
He said that monkeypox is a viral illness
caused by a group of viruses that include
chicken pox and small pox.
He said the virus was first noticed in the
Democratic Republic of Congo and later
started breaking out in the West African
The commissioner added that the virus
had the Central African and the West African
types -”the West African type is milder and
has no records of mortality”, he said.
“Recently in Bayelsa State, we noticed a
suspected outbreak of monkeypox. It has
not been confirmed. We have sent samples
to the World Health Organisation reference
laboratory in Dakar, Senegal.’’
“When that comes out we will be sure that
it is confirmed. But from all indications, it
points towards it.
“As the name implies, the virus was first
seen in monkey, but can also be found in
all bush animals such as rats, squirrels and
“The source is usually all animals. It
was first seen in monkeys and that is why
it is called monkeypox. But every bush
animals such as rats, squirrels, antelopes are
involved. So, the secretions from particularly
dead animals are highly contagious.”
According to Etebu, the symptoms of
monkeypox are severe headache, fever, back
pains amongst other symptoms, adding thatmost worrisome of all the signs were rashes
bigger than those caused by chicken pox.
Speaking on the outbreak of the virus
in the state he said, “We noticed the first
index case from Agbura where somebody
was purported to have killed and eaten a
monkey and after that the people who are
his neighbours and family members started
developing the rashes.
“We have seen cases from as far as Biseni.
We invited the NCDC together with our
own epidemiological team from the Bayelsa
Ministry of Health. We have been able to
trace most of the people who have come in
contact with the patients.
“So far, we have 10 patients and we have
created an isolation centre at the NDUTH
and most of them are on admission and
we are following up the 49 cases that we
are suspecting may come down with the
illness. As a state we are taking care of all the
expenses of all the isolated cases.
“The disease has an incubation period and
it is also self-limiting in the sense that within
two to four weeks, you get healed and it
confers you with immunity for life.
“We have mobilised virtually every
arsenal at our disposal in terms of sensitising
the general public and making them aware
by radio programmes, jingles and fliers.
Also, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control
has mobilised fully to Bayelsa State. We are
on top of the situation.
He urged the public to observe hand
hygiene and ensure they don’t come
in contact with dead animals and their
secretions, adding that the disease is
airborne very infectious.
“People should wash their hands
whenever they go in or come out of their
houses. If they touch with animals, they
should ensure that they wash their hands.
Etebu further advised people to be vigilant
and to report any similar cases to the relevant
“A lot of people have come down with
the symptoms but they are hiding in their
houses. If they hide, there is the propensity
for the infection to spread’’, he emphasised.
Meanwhile the NCDC has said that
Monkeypox infection is a relatively rare
disease that has previously been reported in
Nigeria in the 1970s. It is primarily a zoonotic
infection i.e. transmitted primarily from
animals to humans, with limited subsequent
person-to-person transmission. The most
common animal hosts are squirrels, rats
and sometimes, monkeys. The Monkeypox
virus can cause an illness with the following
symptoms; a generalised vesicular skin rash,
fever, and painful jaw swelling. In previous
outbreaks, it has led to death in about 1-10%
of infected cases. Although there is no
specific medicine to treat the disease, when
intensive supportive care is provided most
patients recover fully.
Chief Executive Officer of NCDC, Dr.
Chikwe Ihekweazu has advised that health
workers must continue to manage their
patients without fear. He advised, “As
long as universal infection prevention and
control practices are strictly adhered to by
all clinical staff, the chances of transmission
are minimal.”


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