20171005

Deadly Monkeypox hits Bayelsa; doctor, others quarantined

Fear has gripped the residents of Bayelsa State as a deadly viral epidemic known as “monkeypox” has broken out in the state.

According to the World Health Organisation, monkeypox is a rare disease that occurs primarily in remote parts of Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.

“The monkeypox virus can cause a fatal illness in humans and, although it is similar to human smallpox which has been eradicated, it is much milder,” WHO says.

It was authoritatively learnt that a medical doctor and 10 persons who came down with the monkeypox had been quarantined in an isolation centre at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri, in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state.

The isolation centre was reportedly created by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control and the epidemiological team of the state’s Ministry of Health to control the spread of the virus.

The NCDC and the epidemiological team were said to be tracking 49 other persons who were said to have come in contact with persons who were already infected.

The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, confirmed the development, saying that samples of the virus had been sent to the World Health Organisation laboratory in Dakar, Senegal, for confirmation.

He described monkeypox as a viral illness caused by a group of viruses that include chicken pox and smallpox, adding that the first case was noticed in the Democratic Republic of Congo and subsequent outbreaks in West African region.

The commissioner explained that the virus has the Central African and the West African types, saying that the the West African type is milder and has no records of mortality.

Etebu stated, “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 [know better]. 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.”

He listed the symptoms as severe headache, fever, back pains, etc., noting that most worrisome of all the signs are rashes bigger than those caused by chicken pox.