Following the notification of a suspected monkeypox outbreak on the 22nd of September, 2017 in Bayelsa State, other suspected cases have been reported from six more States, bringing the total number of suspected cases so far to 31 across 7 States - Bayelsa, Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ogun and Cross River States. NO CASE HAS BEEN CONFIRMED but Samples have been collected from each suspected case for laboratory confirmation. Results are still awaited. So far, there have been no deaths recorded. It is unlikely that many of the suspected cases are actually monkeypox, but all are being investigated.
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 Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (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 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.
In light of the above, it is important to be reminded that monkeypox is a rare viral zoonotic disease with symptoms in humans similar to those seen in smallpox patients, but much less severe and with a low fatality rate. Transmission is via contact with infected animal, human, or contaminated materials. Animal-to-human transmission occurs through bite or 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 handwashing with soap and water, and use of personal protective equipment.
Signs and symptoms include fever, headache, body pain, malaise, lymphadenopathy (enlargement of glands), sore throat, the characteristic generalized vesicular rash. The rashes might last between two to four weeks. Monkeypox is self-limiting, which means patients tend to recover with time. However, supportive care and management of condition is required and mostly successful.
The CEO, of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Contriol, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu again emphasizes that "Nigerians are once advised to remain calm, avoid self-medication and report any suspected case to the nearest health facility. Public health authorities across the country have been well informed on what to do when a suspected case arises".