EDITORIAL: Tackling the outbreak of monkeypox virus

EDITORIAL: Tackling the outbreak of monkeypox virus

After containing the deadly Ebola virus that swept across Nigeria in 2014, Nigerians are now faced with yet another virus, Monkeypox. The most worrisome symptom is the presence of rashes, bigger than those caused by chicken pox, usually spreading across the whole body of an infected person.

The National Centre for Disease Control [NCDC] in Abuja has said 31 cases of monkeypox viral infection have been recorded in Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ogun, Bayelsa, Rivers and Cross River States. However, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole has said cases of monkeypox reported in different parts of the country are only suspected cases for now.

According to the NCDC Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the centre had activated an Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) to coordinate investigation into the outbreak and work out appropriate response across the affected states.

Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in some colonies of monkeys that had been kept for research at the State Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, it was immediately named ‘monkeypox’. But the first human index was reportedly recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox. The recent index case in Bayelsa State from where it has spread to other states was traced to the eating of monkeys by some villagers.

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While there is no commercially available vaccine specifically for monkeypox, not one of the patients suspected to have contracted it in seven states has died of the disease, compared to Ebola which killed victims by the thousands in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Given our experience with Ebola only a few years ago, it is easy to understand why Nigerians are disturbed by the outbreak of the new disease, which is also why AljazirahNigeria urge our health authorities to respond urgently and efficiently to this latest scare.

When there was an outbreak of the much-dreaded Ebola virus in the country in 2014, many Nigerians as well as members of the international community commended the Lagos State Government and the federal health authorities for the swift response in dealing with the disease, ferried in from Liberia. The manner the response was coordinated at the time saved several lives and prevented what could have been a national calamity.

AljazirahNigeria, therefore, urge the federal government, and its health agencies to replicate this achievement by containing the spread of monkeypox by leading a continuous campaign to sensitise and enlighten the populace on public health issues, and fight the outbreak.

We also urge the Federal Government, health establishments, state and local governments to upgrade up their response to monkeypox before it leads to a much unpleasant situation soon.

Since prevention is still far better than cure, AljazirahNigeria urge Nigerians to continue to observe good hygienic behaviour, especially given the causative factors of monkeypox like avoiding contact with animals that could harbor the virus; practice good hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans; isolate infected patients from others who could be at risk for infection, among others.

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