The federal government is yet to ascertain that the strange disease which broke out in Bayelsa State and has spread to seven others with a total recorded 33 cases, is actually the dreaded monkey pox.
However, a scientist, Professor Christian Appeh, is currently handling a laboratory investigation into the matter, while double check is also being done in a public health laboratory in Senegal to find out what the disease really is.
Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole disclosed this to State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The states so far affected includes Bayelsa, Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa-Ibom, Lagos, Ogun and Cross River.
According to the minister, the cases so far reported did not fit into the prototype of monkey pox adding that the rampaging disease is close to the pox family.
He said, "The other one which is less topical but less deadly is monkey pox, and this actually started in Bayelsa and we have recorded 33 suspected cases in all from the states; Bayelsa, Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom,Lagos, Ogun and Cross River. And what is particularly significant is that many of the cases so reported do not fit into the classic prototype of monkey pox but we are trying to confirm before the end of today or early tomorrow we should be able to confirm exactly what we are dealing with, if it's truly monkey pox. But what is obvious is that we have a disease that is close to the pox family.
"One of our scientists, Professor Christian Appeh, is looking into it in the laboratory to confirm if it is truly monkey pox. We are also doing a double confirmation in Senegal because Senegal also has a public health lab that could make diagnosis. We are looking at the two and hopefully in the next 24 or 48 hours we should be able to make a diagnosis as to what we have."
Professor Adewole, however, advised that Nigerians should continue to maintain high level hygiene while government continues with investigation of the disease.
The minister also expressed optimism that even if the disease is the suspected monkey pox, it is likely to be the West African type since no death has been recorded.
"Our advice to Nigerians will be not to panic, report all suspected cases to health facilities and to continue to maintain a high level of hygiene. Let's wash our hands, let's avoid contact with dead animals, clean our surroundings and as much as possible for health workers to maintain barrier nursing while managing people with suspected cases of monkey pox.
"There are two types of monkey pox, there is the Central African type and the west African type. We suspect that if confirmed, we probably have the west African type which is milder because so far we have not recorded any death from monkey pox," he said.
The minister stated that report presented by his ministry on the tracking of several outbreaks in the country indicated that no new cases of Lassa fever has been recorded while cholera outbreak in Borno has declined.
He disclosed that there is an ongoing outbreak of yellow fever in Kwara, Kogi, Plateau and Abia states, saying that a nationwide vaccination against the disease will commence in December.
"FEC received the usual report on public health situation in the country and that report dealt with our current tracking of several outbreaks in the country. We presented the status report on Lassa fever,and we reported that no new confirmed case of Lassa fever has been reported in the country. We also reported the declining case of cholera in Borno state and we are quite happy that no death has been reported from Borno State.
"There is also an ongoing outbreak of yellow fever which started in Kwara. So far, we have recorded four cases in Kwara, two in Kogi, two in Plateau one in Abia and one in Edo, making 10 cases in all, what we have decided to do is to start our reactive campaign in Kwara and Kogi starting from Friday 13th of this month.
"We have also decided to start a nationwide vaccination against yellow fever, we are going to bring that forward to December because of what is currently ongoing.
"We quite recognise the fact that we have a large number of Nigerians who are un- immuned to yellow fever and so we want to do a nationwide vaccination against yellow fever," he stated.