With 33 suspected cases of “monkey pox infection” already recorded in seven states, the Federal Government is still trying to confirm exactly what health workers are dealing with.
According to Minister of Health Prof. Isaac Adewole, many of the cases reported in Bayelsa, Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ogun and Cross River did not fit into the classic prototype of monkey pox.
He spoke with State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Adewole was with Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige and the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina.
The minister said: “Many of the cases so reported do not fit into the classic prototype of monkey pox. But we are trying to confirm and before the end of today or early tomorrow, we should be able to confirm exactly what we are dealing with. Is it truly monkey pox? But what is obvious is that we have a disease that is close to the pox family.
“One of our scientists, Prof. 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 laboratory 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.”
According to him, there was no reported case of death from the decease.
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.
In the interim, he urged Nigerians not to panic, but to continue to maintain high-level of hygiene and avoid contact with dead animals.
He said: “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 and 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.”
Adewole added: “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.”
Seven victims discharged in Bayelsa
It was, however, learnt yesterday that seven of the victims of monkey pox quarantined at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), Okolobiri, Bayelsa State, have been treated and discharged from the facility.
Commissioner for Information and Orientation Daniel Iworiso-Markson, who confirmed the development yesterday, said the victims had recovered from the infection.
He said others were strictly under supervision and were responding to treatment.
The commissioner added that they would soon be allowed to leave the hospital.
He said so far, the government could beat its chest to say it had “been able to successfully contain the spread of the disease as no new case had been reported in the last few days”.
Iworiso-Markson said: “With the way and manner the government deployed its machinery and with the team of dedicated health and medical personnel, Monkey pox will soon be fully kicked out of Bayelsa State.”
He hailed the state government, especially the Ministry of Health and its officials as well as the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) for their efforts in the fight against the disease.
Poor living conditions cause of spread
Poor living conditions of the citizenry has been blamed for the spread of monkey pox virus.
The virus has spread to seven states barely 20 days of the outbreak in Bayelsa state on September 22.
Other six affected states are Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ogun and Cross Rivers State
In a statement yesterday, a charity group, Envision Global Care Foundation, observed that the less-privileged groups are more vulnerable to disease outbreaks due to their poor living condition, access to good medical care and other environmental hazards.
The foundation, therefore, called on the Federal Government to improve the living condition of the nation’s less privileged to prevent similar disease outbreak in the country.
The statement, which was signed by Ndidi Chukwu, communication consultant to the group, urged the Federal Government to declare the virus a serious medical emergency.
Osun establishes isolation centres
Osun State has established three isolation centres following the alleged outbreak of the disease.
However, for security reason, the state government did not reveal where the centres are located.
Commissioner for Health Dr. Rafiu Isamotu at a news briefing in Osogbo, the state capital, said health workers across the state are already on red alert as part of preventive measure against spread of the disease.
According to Isamotu, the move to curtail the spread of the disease was necessary to insulate the state against the outbreak.
The commissioner explained that no case of monkey pox had been recorded in the state.
He further explained that the state government has begun sensitisation of the public and would soon begin training of health personnel.