NCDC confirms 12 suspected Monkey Pox cases in Bayelsa

By Sola Ogundipe

Nigerians have been urged to remain calm even as the Nigeria Centre for
Disease Control, NCDC, confirmed 12 cases of suspected Monkey Pox in
Bayelsa State, with 32 close contacts of the cases placed under watch.
Disclosing this in a statement, National Coordinator/CEO of the NCDC, Dr.
Chikwe Ihekweazu, said all the cases were currently receiving appropriate
medical care and no death had been recorded, but called for high index of
suspicion among health workers.

According to Ihekweazu, “On September 22, Nigeria Centre for Disease
Control, NCDC, was notified of a case of suspected Monkey Pox. The case
was identified in an 11-year-old male patient, who was presented to the
Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, NDUTH, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Subsequently, 11 other cases were identified.

No deaths’

“All the cases are currently receiving appropriate medical care. All the
patients are improving clinically and there have been no deaths. As at
October 1, 32 close contacts of the cases have been identified, advised
appropriately and are being monitored.

“A Rapid Response Team from NCDC was immediately deployed to support
the Bayelsa State Government in the investigations and public health
response to the outbreak.”

According to the NCDC boss, health care workers are strongly advised to
practice universal precautions while handling patients and/or body fluids at
all times, while all suspected cases should be reported to the Local
Government Area or State Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers.

Minister calls for calm

Meanwhile, calling for calm, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole,
said health facilities in Bayelsa State are on the alert, saying patients
suspected of having Monkey Pox have been quarantined, while supportive
treatments are being offered to the victims.

According to the Minister, “investigation is still ongoing and our partners are
working with us on this reported outbreak, while the NCDC team in Bayelsa
State would give support.”

Adewole said although Monkey Pox could not be confirmed until laboratory
investigations by World Health Organisation, WHO, referral laboratory in
Dakar, Senegal says so, the disease was milder and had no record of
mortality.

Symptoms, precaution

He said common symptoms include headache, fever, back pains and in,
advanced cases, rashes bigger than those caused by Chicken Pox, noting that
“anyone with symptoms of Monkey Pox should immediately report to the
nearest health facility, while health workers are advised to maintain a high
index of suspicion and observe safety precautions.”

He said the virus was mild and there was no known treatment and no
preventive vaccines, hence the public should be at alert and avoid crowded
places as much as possible.

He advised the public to avoid eating dead animals, bush meat and
particularly bush monkeys and said people should be supportive of public
health authorities and avoid self-medication.

Antecedent

Monkey Pox is a relatively rare disease transmitted primarily from animals to
humans with limited subsequent person-to-person transmission. The last
reported case in Nigeria was in the 1970s.

The disease is primarily a zoonotic infection (transmitted from animals to
humans) with limited subsequent person-to-person transmission. The most
common animal hosts are squirrels, rats and sometimes, monkeys.

The Monkey Pox virus can cause an illness with symptoms of generalised
vesicular skin rash, fever and painful jaw swelling. In previous outbreaks, it
led to death in about one to 10 percent of infected cases.

There is no specific medicine to treat the disease, but intensive supportive
care helps patients to recover fully.

Prevention

Prevention includes avoiding contact with animals that are sick or found dead
in areas where Monkey Pox occurs.
Members of the public are advised to always wash hands with soap and
water after contact with animals or when caring for sick relatives or soiled
beddings.

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