Nigeria Disease Control Agency Issues Warning Over Monkeypox

The Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) said monkeypox is a sporadic disease that does not constitute an outbreak in Nigeria.

The viral infection, Monkeypox (MPX), is currently ravaging European countries, causing health safety concerns across the world, including in Nigeria, especially over a possible outbreak.

Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, a genus of orthopoxvirus in the pox family that includes both smallpox and cowpox. 

The disease is generally transmitted from animal to human (through contact with infected bodily fluids as well as improperly cooked meats); the human-to-human transmission can also be contacted through bodily fluid and inhaling the infected droplets.

The infection was first reported by the United Kingdom (UK). The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) had on Friday, May 6, 2022, said the case was diagnosed in a traveller who arrived in the U.K. from Nigeria on May 3. The traveller briefly travelled to Lagos on April 20 and resided in Delta State, South-south Nigeria, before returning to the UK.  

The new development has raised concerns that there are possible unreported cases of the monkeypox virus in rural areas in Nigeria and talks of another pandemic that would further strain the Nigerian health systems already stretched by COVID-19, cholera, and Lassa fever.

Spotlighting Nigeria

Health authorities in Nigeria swung into action after five cases were reported in four states in Nigeria – Lagos (2), FCT (1), Kano (1), and Delta (1)   as of April 30. 

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has been able to put the disease under surveillance and control since cases of monkeypox were confirmed in 2022, according to  Emeka Oguanuo, a Communication officer at NCDC.

“We [NCDC] have treated every case as important as long as it threatens lives,” Oguanuo said in an interview with HumAngle.  

But he countered that the publicity that the disease is enjoying follows the case reported in the UK. “The monkeypox publicity we have right now is because one person who visited Nigeria was identified with the disease in the UK.”

‘Not a public health concern’ -NCDC

Since the re-emergence of monkeypox in Nigeria in Sept. 2017, sporadic cases have been recorded across states in the country. Between Sept. 2017 and April 30, 2022, a total of 558 cases and eight deaths from 22 states were confirmed. 

Of these, 46 suspected cases were reported between Jan. and April 2022. Out of the suspected cases, 15 were confirmed from seven states which are Adamawa (3), Lagos (3), Cross River (2), FCT (2), Kano (2), Delta (2) and Imo (1), so far, there hasn’t been any fatality.

However, the NCDC said that these numbers do not constitute a public health concern.

Ifedayo Adetifa, the Director-General of NCDC described monkeypox as a sporadic disease that does not constitute an outbreak. He added that since its re-emergence, the disease is not regarded as a threat.  

Nonetheless, Adetifa said the health agency is worried about the disease due to its close relation to the smallpox virus – an acute contagious disease caused by the variola virus that caused millions of deaths before it was declared eradicated in 1980 by WHO.

“Monkeypox can potentially change from being a sporadic transmission to something that can give the Nigerian health sector a major concern,” he said during an interview on Channels TV.

“It is a disease that we do not fully understand; there are no vaccines available for now and no established treatment.” 

Since monkeypox is a viral zoonosis, Adetifa advised Nigerians to avoid eating bush meats and cultivate the habit of storing their food items properly from rodents.   

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