Monkeypox is a rare a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in remote parts of Central and West Africa, near tropical rain forests. Its symptoms are very similar to that of smallpox.
The first case of monkeypox in Bayelsa has been traced to a monkey, but the biology of the virus allows it to be transmitted from human to human once it gets into human populations A week ago, fear had griped residents of Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State, following the outbreak of the viral epidemic, Monkey Pox, in the state, with report that 10 persons had already been infected while authorities in the state said they were tracking 49 persons alleged to have come in contact with the infected persons.
Nigerian Centre for Disease Control said on Monday that samples had been collected from each of the suspected cases for laboratory confirmation and results were still being awaited.
The centre’s chief executive officer, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said no deaths had been recorded as a result of the virus so far.
According to him, it remained unlikely that many of the suspected cases were actually monkey pox.
“All the suspected cases are currently receiving appropriate medical care and the patients are all improving clinically in their various states.
“The Federal Ministry of Health, through the NCDC, is supporting the affected states to ensure the outbreak is brought under control and to limit further spread.
“NCDC has activated an Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) to coordinate the outbreak’s investigation and response across the affected states.
“The EOC is currently supporting state ministries of health in their response to the outbreak through active case finding, epidemiological investigation and contact tracing.
“Measures have been put in place to ensure effective sample collection and testing to enable laboratory confirmation.
“Risk communication activities have been heightened to advise the public on preventive measures. All 36 states and the FCT have been notified for preparedness,” he said.
Ihekweazu warned that the monkey pox virus was a rare viral zoonotic disease with symptoms in humans similar to those seen in small pox patients, but much less severe and with a low fatality rate.
He said transmission could be via contact with infected animals, humans, or contaminated materials.
“Animal-to-human transmission occurs through bites or a scratch from animals and bush meat preparation.
“It can also be transmitted from one person to another. Human-to-human transmission occurs through respiratory droplets, contact with infected persons or contaminated materials.
“Control measures include isolation of suspected or confirmed cases, strict adherence to universal precautions, especially frequent hand washing with soap and water, and use of personal protective equipment,” he added.
The Lagos State Government Monday also confirmed the outbreak of the virus in the state, adding that two suspected cases had been recorded.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, disclosed this at a news conference, saying that the two suspected cases were currently being investigated in the state.
“Though no confirmed case has been recorded, there is need to sensitise members of the public and provide adequate information on measures for prevention and control of the disease in line with the policy of the state government,” he said.
Idris disclosed that the two suspected cases were recorded in a private hospital but did not disclose the name of the hospital.
He added that one of the suspects had just arrived Lagos from Bayelsa State and ate bush meat.
Idris said the two suspects were currently being quarantined in their various homes, pending the result of the investigation.
The commissioner said in the wake of this outbreak, the state government was reiterating the need for members of the public to observe and maintain high standards of personal and environmental hygiene at all times as part of the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease in the state.
He urged members of the public to be vigilant and report any suspected cases of the disease to the nearest public health facility or the Directorate of Disease Control in the state ministry of health.
“Also, health workers are advised to practise universal safety precautions in the management of suspected or confirmed cases, wear appropriate personal protective equipment when attending to cases, wash hands after each contact with a patient or contaminated materials while surveillance systems must be strengthened.
“The state government has mobilised the Disease Surveillance Officers in the 57 LGAs and LCDAs in the state and health workers in both public and private health facilities have been placed on high alert,” Idris said.
Idris called on residents of the state to remain calm and go about their businesses without fear, as the government had put in place adequate measures to effectively prevent and control the spread of the infection to Lagos.
“In case of any suspected case of monkey pox, the Lagos State Ministry of Health should be notified through the following mobile lines: 08037170614, 09087106072,” he said.
-The Rainbow with online reports