Monkey Pox – The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has declared Lagos State free from the virus while Bayelsa State has recorded about three confirmed cases after laboratory tests. Adewole disclosed this yesterday in Abuja while briefing journalists on the latest development on the dreaded virus. According to him, only three out of the 17 suspected cases of the disease reported on October 13, 2017, from Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State has been confirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Laboratory in Dakar, Senegal. He said samples from 12 other cases were negative while results of the remaining two cases are being expected.

The minister stressed that the most likely source of infection is a primary zoonotic transmission from an animal with a secondary person-to-person transmission. Since government’s initial announcement, he said, a total of 43 other suspected cases had been reported from eight other states (Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ekiti, Lagos, Enugu, Nasarawa, Rivers, and FCT), adding that of these, four cases from Lagos State had also been tested and confirmed to be negative for the monkey pox virus. “We expect that many of these cases being reported from other states in Nigeria are not caused by the monkey pox virus, but we will continue to investigate all those cases that fit the case definition,” he said. Adewole further disclosed that further laboratory tests using whole genome sequencing are being carried out by the Africa Centre for Genomics and Infectious Diseases in Redeemers University Ede, Osun State, under the headship of Dr. Christian Happi. He, however, allayed the fear over the disease, saying: “Monkey pox is largely a self-limiting disease from which all suspected patients that have been reported to date are doing well clinically. Even before this confirmation, all the necessary public health measures have been put in place and will continue to be implemented. “So far, it is not a deadly disease. We should not stigmatise it. The media should help educate the public that monkey pox is not deadly.” Though there is no cure for the disease yet, Adewole said: “There is no cure, no vaccine but there is no disease that can task the ingenuity of humanity.

“Science and humanity will overcome this. Vaccine will come over time.” The minister said measures that can be taken to prevent infection with monkey pox virus include avoiding contact with squirrels, rats and similar animals, especially when these animals are sick or found dead in areas where the Monkey pox virus is circulating. He advised the public to always wash hands with soap and water after contact with animals or when caring for sick relatives. Symptoms of the disease, he said, begin with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion, adding that monkey pox causes lymph nodes to swell (lymphadenopathy) and the incubation period (time from infection to symptoms) for Monkey pox is usually seven to 14 days but can range from five-21 days. Speaking on the efforts of his ministry, he said the Federal Ministry of Health through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has established an Emergency Operations Centre and would continue to coordinate the response across states and test samples from other cases. While commending the Bayelsa State Government for its quick response by initiating an outbreak investigation and response supported by a team, he promised that the NCDC would continue to support all states in their response and will keep the public informed as the situation evolves. Meanwhile, patient who was being treated for the disease, at a quarantine centre at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), has taken his life. It was not clear if the unnamed man committed suicide because of the ailment, but the Bayelsa State Government told journalists yesterday that the deceased took his own life in the early hours of Saturday. The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, at a joint press conference with his Information counterpart, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, disclosed that the deceased was among the 21 suspected cases of ‘MonkeyPox’ that were being managed at the centre. He expressed regret that the patient took his own life despite speedily recovering from the disease and stated that his medical history did not suggest any mental illness or features of depression.


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