A rare disease called monkeypox has reportedly broken out in Bayelsa State.
10 people have been quarantined at the isolation center in Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri, in Yenagoa.
Monkeypox, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is similar to smallpox, but milder.
Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the epidemiological team of the state’s Ministry of Health are reported to have created the isolation center with the motive of stopping the spread of the disease.
WHO reports that although the monkeypox virus is transmitted to people from various wild animals, it has limited secondary spread through human-to-human transmission.
Ebitimitula Etebum, Bayelsa State Commissioner for Health, said samples of the disease have been sent to the World Health Organisation’s reference laboratory in Dakar, Senegal.
He said the first case observed was a man who killed and ate a monkey. He soon developed symptoms of the disease – severe headache, fever, back pains, rashes.
Neighbors of the man also began seeing the symptoms, the commissioner said.
He added that 49 other people who have come in contact with the patients are also under observation.
Recently in Bayelsa State, we noticed a suspected outbreak of monkeypox. It has not been confirmed. We have sent samples to the World Health Organisation’s reference laboratory in Dakar, Senegal.
When that comes out, we will be sure that it is confirmed. But from all indications, it points towards it.
As the name implies, the virus was first seen in monkey, but can also be found in all bush animals such as rats, squirrels and antelopes.
The source is usually all animals. It was first seen in monkeys and that is why it is called monkeypox. But every bush animals such as rats, squirrels, and antelopes are involved.
So, the secretions from particularly dead animals are highly contagious.
We noticed the first index case from Agbura, where somebody was purported to have killed and eaten a monkey and after that, the people who are neighbours and families started developing the rashes.
We have seen cases from as far as Biseni. We invited the NCDC together with our own epidemiological team from the Bayelsa Ministry of Health.
We have been able to trace most of the people who have come in contact with the patients.
So far, we have 10 patients and we have created an isolation centre at the NDUTH and most of them are on admission and we are following up the 49 cases that we are suspecting might come down with the illness.
As a state, we are taking care of all the expenses of all the isolated cases.
The disease has an incubation period and it is also self-limiting in the sense that within two to four weeks, you get healed and it confers you with immunity for life.
We have mobilised virtually every arsenal at our disposal in terms of sensitising the general public and making them aware by radio programmes, jingles and fliers. So, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control has mobilised fully to Bayelsa State. We are on top of the situation.
The only thing I will tell the general public is to observe hand hygiene and ensure they don’t come in contact with dead animals and their secretions. The disease is air-borne too. So when you come down with it, it is very infectious.
People should wash their hands whenever they go in or come out of their houses. If they come in touch with animals, they should ensure that they wash their hands.
They should be very vigilant. People should report any similar cases to the relevant authorities.
A lot of people have come down with the symptoms, but they are hiding in their houses. If they hide, there is the propensity for the infection to spread.
It is better to quarantine them and treat them so that we can interrupt the spread of the disease.
People should be calm and they shouldn’t get frightened. The state has distributed personal protective equipment to workers and they are using them.