FG steps in as Monkeypox attacks Bayelsa

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Prof. Isaac Adewole
Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole: Wants urgent intervention to stop the spread of Monkeypox

By Jessica Onegbula

The Federal Government says it is addressing the outbreak of Monkeypox in Bayelsa.

The government said this in a statement published on the website of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and signed by the Chief Executive Officer of the centre, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, on Thursday in Abuja.

According to the statement, government is also taking the required steps to manage the cases and to prevent further spread of the disease.

Ihekweazu said that NCDC has also collected appropriate clinical samples from the cases and they are currently being analysed through the National Reference Laboratory in Abuja.

“On the 22nd of September, 2017, the NCDC was notified of a case of suspected Monkeypox in an 11 year old male patient who presented to the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH) in Bayelsa state.

“Subsequently, 11 other cases were identified; all the cases are currently receiving appropriate medical care.

“All the patients are improving clinically and there have been no deaths, as at 1st October 2017, 32 close contacts of the cases have been identified, advised appropriately and are being monitored,’’ he said.

Ihekweazu said that a Rapid Response Team (RRT) from NCDC was immediately deployed to support the Bayelsa State Government in the investigations and public health response to the outbreak.

According to him, the team has been supporting the Bayelsa State Department of Public Health and the State Epidemiologist to respond to the outbreak.

He explained that Monkeypox infection is a relatively rare disease that has previously been reported in Nigeria in the 1970s.

He said that it is primarily a zoonotic infection that is transmitted primarily from animals to humans, with limited subsequent person-to-person transmission.

“The most common animal hosts are squirrels, rats and sometimes, monkeys, the Monkeypox virus can cause an illness with the following symptoms; a generalised vesicular skin rash, fever and painful jaw swelling.

“In previous outbreaks, it has led to death in about one to 10 per cent of infected cases, although there is no specific medicine to treat the disease, when intensive supportive care is provided most patients recover fully,’’ he said.

Ihekweazu advised the public to avoid contact with animals, especially animals that are sick or found dead in areas where Monkeypox occurs.

“The public is advised to always wash hands with soap and water after contact with animals or when caring for sick relatives; humans or soiled beddings.

He therefore advised Nigerians to remain calm and supportive of public health authorities, avoid self-medication and report to the nearest health facility if feeling unwell.

Healthcare workers are strongly advised to practice universal precautions while handling patients and body fluids at all times, he added.

According to him, government has embarked on an aggressive public enlightenment campaign to advise clinicians and the public on the Monkeypox reported in Bayelsa.

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