These are definitely not the best of times for the health sector in the country as a new viral epidemic known as “Monkey Pox” has broken out in Bayelsa State. Like the classical case of Ebola, which was dictated early and controlled, even though it cost Nigeria precious lives, a medical doctor and 10 other persons who came down with the “Monkey Pox” had been quarantined in an isolation centre created at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH) Okolobiri, Yenagoa local government area of the state.
The isolation centre was reportedly created by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the epidemiological team of the state’s Ministry of Health to stop the spread of the disease. It was learnt that the NCDC and the epidemiological team were tracking 49 other victims, who had come in contact with the infected persons, meaning that everybody has to be careful.
Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Health, who confirmed the development, said samples of the virus, had been sent to the World Health Organisation (WHO) laboratory in Dakar, Senegal, for confirmation. He described Monkey Pox as a viral disease caused by a group of viruses that include chicken pox and small pox, adding that the first case was noticed in the Democratic Republic of Congo and subsequently had outbreaks in West Africa. According to him the virus has the Central African and the West African types, adding that the West African type is milder and has no records of mortality.
“Recently in Bayelsa State we noticed a suspected outbreak of “Monkey Pox.” It has not been confirmed. We have sent samples to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 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,” he said.
He said as the name implied, the virus was first seen in monkey, but could also be found in all bush animals such as rats, squirrels and antelopes. Adding, “The source is usually all animals. It was first seen in monkeys and that is why it is called monkey pox. But every bush animals like rats, squirrels, antelopes are involved. So, the secretions from particularly dead animals are highly contagious.” He listed the symptoms of “Monkey Pox” to include severe headache, fever and back pain amongst others, adding that most worrisome of all the signs were rashes bigger than those caused by chicken pox.