Signs of an outbreak of monkeypox in Ebonyi State

One active case of the monkeypox outbreak has been reported in Abakaliki, sending chills through the 13 local government areas of Ebonyi State.

Additionally, 32 suspected cases were noted, but no deaths, either in suspected or confirmed cases, have been reported in the state.

According to a statement by the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Umezurike, “A 32-year-old male farmer who hails from Ugwulangwu in Ohaozara LGA but resides in Abakaliki said to have traveled to Rivers State returned to Ebonyi on 7th of July 2022, with fever, maculopapular rash, sore throat, headache and generalized weakness of the body. A presumptive diagnosis of monkeypox was made to rule out smallpox.

“Sample was collected and sent to the NCDC National Reference Laboratory and the result came out positive for Monkeypox Virus. The patient was admitted to Ebonyi State isolation centre and is currently being managed for monkeypox and he is responding to treatment. 7 contacts have been identified and line-listed which are currently been followed up.”

He said: “Active case search has been heightened across all the LGAs in the state to strengthen case finding,” adding that “Signs and symptoms include fever, headache, generalized body pain, malaise, lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph node), sore throat, rash (the rash will appear 1 to 3 days after the onset of fever and the rash often begins on the face and then spreads to limbs, trunks, genitalia, palms, and soles) and intense asthenia (lack of energy).“

The statement read in part: “Outbreak in Ebonyi State presented by the Honorable Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Umezurike, on Monday, August 15th, 2022. Following the notification of a suspected case of monkeypox on the 10th of August, 2022 at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki.

“The EOC has been activated to coordinate the outbreak investigation and response across the 13LGAs in the State and is currently supporting response activities to contain the monkeypox outbreak via active case search, epidemiological investigation, contact line listing, and monitoring of all exposed contacts. Public health measures have been put in place to ensure effective sample collection and testing to enable laboratory confirmation.

“Risk communication activities have been heightened to advise the public on preventive measures.”

Given the foregoing, it is critical to remember that monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease that causes symptoms in humans that are comparable to those of people who have smallpox, but much less severe and with a low case fatality rate.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name monkeypox. It has an incubation period of 5 to 21 days.

The first human case was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a period of intensified efforts to eliminate smallpox. Since then, monkeypox has been reported in humans in other central and western African countries. The case fatality rate is 1% to 10%, with most deaths occurring in younger age groups and immunocompromised patients.

The animal reservoir is not yet known but is highly suspected to be small mammal species such as rodents. The Orthopoxvirus genus (to which monkeypox belongs) also includes variola virus (the cause of smallpox) and cowpox virus.

The NCDC standard case definition for monkeypox: is an acute illness with a fever greater than 38.3 degrees, intense headache, lymphadenopathy, back pain, myalgia, and intense asthenia, followed 1 to 3 days later by a progressive developing rash often beginning on the face then spreading elsewhere on the body, including the soles of the feet and palms of the hand. WHO has declared monkeypox as a disease of a public health emergency.

How is it transmitted?

Transmission is via contact with an infected animal, human, or contaminated materials. Animals-to-Human transmission occurs through bites or scratches from animals and bush meat preparation. It can also be transmitted from person to person.

Human-to-Human transmission occurs through respiratory droplets, contact with infected people, or contaminated materials.

What are the control measures available?

Control measures include isolation of confirmed cases; strict adherence to universal precautions, especially frequent hand-washing with soap and water; use of face masks, maintaining social distance from suspected and confirmed cases; avoiding contact with rodents; meat should be properly cooked before consumption; and use of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

Monkeypox is self-limiting which means patients tend to recover with time. However, supportive care and management of the condition are required and are mostly successful.

Avoid self-medication and report any suspected case to the nearest health facility. Public health measures are to be strictly adhered to.
Treatment is free and is being supported by the Ebonyi State Government.

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