There has been what is suspected to be a Monkeypox outbreak in Bayelsa. The state health team and Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, have confirmed that at least 11 people have already been infected with the virus and currently quarantined, while about 49 others who have come in contact with the infected are being tracked down.
The NCDC said samples have been sent to the World Health Organisation to confirm the nature of the viral outbreak.
So, what exactly is this new Monkeypox viral outbreak?
1. First, Monkeypox is not Ebola. It is not as fatal with the case-fatality ratio in Africa ranging from 1% and 10%, while that of Ebola ranges between 25% to 90%. They are only similar in the sense that they are both viral zoonosis, that is, transmitted to humans from animals, and they are both contagious.
2. Precisely, monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Its symptoms are similar to those of Smallpox which was eradicated in 1980 but less fatal. However, monkeypox occurs occasionally in remote parts of Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
3. Monkeypox was first identified in 1958 during an investigation into a pox-like disease among monkeys, which explains its name. But in its natural state, monkeypox seems to infect rodents more often than primates. It is transmitted to humans from various bush animals like monkeys, antelopes, squirrels, and rats, but has limited secondary spread through human-to-human transmission.
This makes sense considering how the virus was reported to have entered Bayelsa. According to the State Commissioner of Health, the first case was traced to Agbura, “where somebody was purported to have killed and eaten a monkey and after, neighbours and family members started developing these rashes.”
4. Monkeypox was first identified in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then known as Zaire) in a 9-year-old boy. It soon became endemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with a major outbreak in 1996-97.
5. In May 2003, monkeypox cases were confirmed in the Midwest of the United States of America, marking the first reported occurrence of the disease outside of the African continent. It was reported that a young child became ill with fever and rash after being bitten by a prairie dog purchased at a local swap meet near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In total, 71 cases of monkeypox were reported through June 20, 2003, however, no deaths resulted.
The cases were traced to Gambian rats imported by a Texas exotic animal distributor, from Accra, Ghana in April 2003.
6. In 2005, another monkeypox outbreak occurred in Sudan with sporadic cases being reported from other parts of Africa.
7. In 2009, an outreach campaign among refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo into the Republic of Congo identified and confirmed two cases of monkeypox.
8. Between August and October 2016, a monkeypox outbreak in the Central African Republic was contained with 26 cases and two deaths.
9. Infection of index cases is usually from direct contact with the blood, bodily fluids, or mucosal lesions of infected animals. Eating inadequately cooked meat of infected animals is a possible risk factor.
10. The symptoms usually manifest within 6 to 16 days of infection. Symptoms are fever, intense headache, swelling of the lymph node, back pain, muscle ache, lack of energy, skin eruption with rashes often beginning on the face and then spreading elsewhere on the body.
Severe cases occur more commonly among children and are related to the extent of virus exposure, patient health status and severity of complications.
11. There are no specific treatments or vaccines available for monkeypox infection, but outbreaks can be controlled. Vaccination against smallpox has been proven to be 85% effective in preventing monkeypox in the past but the vaccine is no longer available to the general public after it was discontinued following global smallpox eradication. Nevertheless, prior smallpox vaccination will likely result in a milder disease course.