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Monkeypox is here … beware

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JUST when it looks like, soon Nigerians and the entire world would bounce back to business as  the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic wanes,  there is a  sudden rise of another disease,   Monkeypox.  This new development is of immense concern to health authorities and health conscious individuals.

  MONKEYPOX has been discovered in 42 countries across Africa, Europe, Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, and Western Pacific and the outbreak is causing global panic.

  THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported over 21,000 laboratory – confirmed cases of monkeypox worldwide. The cases were recorded between January 1 and June 15, 2022. Out of this number, 2039 were recorded outside  Africa.

 OVER 64 (3%) of confirmed cases and one death were reported in six endemic countries,  Cameroon, Congo, Nigeria, Ghana, Central African Republic, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

  SO FAR this year, 41 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in Nigeria by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and a total of 2,103 laboratory confirmed cases have been reported worldwide by WHO. According to NCDC,  Nigeria recorded its highest number of monkeypox in 2017 with a total of 88 confirmed cases. The number of confirmed cases dropped to 49 in 2018. A further decline was recorded in 2019 and 2020.  But in 2021, the numbers picked  and continue to cause worry in 2022.

  NCDC Director-General, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa,  confirmed this during a bi-weekly briefing on COVID-19 and other diseases conducted by the Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja, on June 19, 2022. Monkeypox has been confirmed in nine states so far this year. Adamawa and Lagos States have the highest number of cases.

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  FROM September 2017 to  June 19, 2022 there are a total of 267 confirmed cases reported from 32 states in the country. However, since the disease’s resurgence in 2021, just one death – a 40-year-old patient – has been reported, according to the centre’s statement.

 A PATTERN has shown that the monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria affects more males than females with a ratio of 3:1 and people between the ages of 21-40 years in majority of over  78% of the confirmed  cases.

  TWO weeks ago, suspected cases of monkey pox were reported in Anambra East,  Onitsha and Oyi LGAs. The case in Anambra East was confirmed positive and referred to the isolation centre at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, where he is receiving treatment and recovering.

  FOLLOWING the development, the governor of Anambra State,  Prof Chukwuma  Soludo  declared  an  emergency  and response was immediately mobilised to forestall any  outbreak. According to the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr. Afam Ben  Obidike, the state government has been on alert mode following the report of the disease early this year across some states. He said the state was able to detect this on time because her preparedness for it, adding that the state  had put relevant surveillance measures in place to check any outbreak.

  ALTHOUGH health experts have said that the current monkeypox outbreak is unlikely to cause a global challenge as huge as the coronavirus pandemic, it is apt  to senstise the public on what the disease is all about, its symptoms and threats to ensure adequate measures are taken for its prevention and eradication.

  ACCORDING to experts, Monkeypox   is a rare animal (zoonotic) disease caused by the Monkeypox virus which is similar to smallpox. Both Monkeypox and smallpox are in the orthopoxvirus genus with similar symptoms, although Monkeypox is less contagious, and less severe. Other members of the virus fold include cowpox, camelpox, and horsepox viruses.

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  MONKEYPOX is dominant in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa. The first ever human case reported was back in 1970 in the Democratic Republic such as Congo before it spread to other African countries including South Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Nigeria, Liberia, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, and Central African Republic.

  OVER the years, it has been exported to other regions by travellers and tourists. The first time cases of the disease were reported outside Africa was in 2003 in the United States.

  HUMANS are infected by the virus through physical contact with a monkey , for example through being bitten or scratched,  by the primate. This is referred to as animal-to-human transmission. The disease, like other viral diseases such as Lassa fever, can spread via human-to-human transmission too. This  occurs when a person comes into close or skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. The virus also moves through respiratory droplets.

  ONE can also catch the monkeypox virus from infectious injuries, sores, and body fluids of an infected person and contaminated items like clothing and bedding. As a result, household members of a patient or healthcare personnels are more likely to become infected.

  ALTHOUGH Monkeypox is not categorised as a sexually transmitted disease, according to WHO, it can be transmitted through sexual intercourse and intimate contact such as kissing and touching.

  THE disease which manifests in skin rashes similar to smallpox is  accompanied by intense fever, headaches, muscle aches and exhaustion 7−14 days after infection. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is fatal in as many as 1 to 10% of people who become infected.

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  ALTHOUGH monkeypox is treatable, there are no specific regimes of treatment for it. Monkeypox is treated with antiviral medications like Tecovirimat (TPOXX) and Brincidofovir (Tembexa) which are used to treat smallpox. The smallpox vaccine can  also be effective in preventing the monkeypox virus. 

  THE WHO Monkeypox fact sheet published on its website on   May 2022, states that a vaccine, approved  in 2019, can prevent the disease but the availability of the vaccine is still very limited.

  NATIONAL LIGHT  joins  health experts to urge members of the public to avoid contact with animals that can be vehicles for  the virus, which include  dead or sick animals especially, primates  in areas where the disease has been identified.

  WE ALSO urge the  general public to continue engaging in hygienic practices of  washing hands regularly and properly with soap and water, avoiding contact with infected individuals, and cooking animal food products properly before eating.

  JUST as the  NCDC has said,  “if you feel ill, fever or have an intense headache and you notice a sudden rash on your body, please visit the hospital for diagnosis and treatment”. National Light urges citizens to report to experts promptly whenever they notice or suspect such cases around them or hear of it. Doing so will save the society  immensely.

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