Monkey pox reported in Benue, Cross River

Monkey pox patient

Reported cases of suspected monkey pox virus outbreak have been reported in Gboko and Vandeikya Local Government Areas of Benue State.

The state government has said it has deployed medical personnel to the concerned areas to carry out necessary investigations on the purported outbreak.

This was made known in statement issued Wednesday in Makurdi by the Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Cecelia Ojabo.

The statement read in part: “On receiving the report of the suspected cases, I immediately deployed medical doctors to the areas. The blood sample of the suspected victims would be taken for necessary laboratory analysis to confirm whether or not they are indeed cases of monkey pox.

“I urge the people of the state not to panic but remain calm as necessary measures have been put in place to protect our people from the disease.”

Ojabo explained that the state government had long before now shown serious concern over the outbreak of the disease in other parts of the country, “that was why we embarked on serious sensitisation campaigns on how people could guard against contacting it.”

The commissioner appealed to anyone who sees and suspects an outbreak anywhere in the state to immediately report to the nearest medical facility for prompt action.

She further advised the people to abstain from the consumption of any form of bush meat, particularly monkey, rat and squirrel, adding that handshakes should be reduced as preventive measures.

She urged medical personnel to have a high index of suspicion of all fever of unknown origin and make necessary referral to the Infection Unit of the Benue State Teaching Hospital Makurdi

Meanwhile, a third suspect believed to have contracted the virus has been discovered in Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River state.

Director General of the Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Betta Edu, who confirmed the development, said the suspected carrier is a 28-year-old female local government staff.

Edu said just as the previous two cases, the suspected carriers of the disease had been quarantined, while all those who made contacts with him are being traced.

Edu said the blood sample of the latest suspect had been taken and handed over to the disease surveillance and notification officer for analysis.

Commenting on the outcome of the two previous cases, Edu said the results for the both suspected cases which were sent to Dakar in Senegal were yet to be sent back to the health authorities of the state.

Previous cased linked to suspect carriers of monkey pox were recorded in October, in Ikom Local Government Area, and Calabar Municipal Local Government Area, respectively

However, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Wednesday said with the recent two cases reported in Benue and in Kano States within the week, the number of cases so far recorded in Nigeria since the outbreak of the disease has increased to 97 with only nine confirmed.

In a one-day advocacy meeting with media chiefs/executives on monkey pox reportage drawn from the UNICEF in Enugu and Rivers Field Office and organised by UNICEF in collaboration with the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Health held in Uyo, UNICEF Health Specialist, Dr. Eghe Abe, stated that though no death has been recorded, the virus is spreading, demanding urgent attention.

Presenting a paper with the title, ‘Understanding the epidemiology of monkey pox viral disease,” Abe and Dr. Anikeme Uwa, Akwa Ibom State Epidemiologist in their separate presentation debunked the rumour making the rounds that some military personnel were vaccinating children with monkey pox vaccine, stating that the disease so far has no treatment or vaccine, adding that such rumours are misleading and must be ignored and discarded.

They maintained that, so far the country has no screening centre hence the blood samples of suspected cases of monkey pox are taken to Dakar in Senegal for confirmation, noting that the absence of the confirmation centre in Nigeria resulted in the longer delay in confirming the cases in Bayalsa and other stages.

They also pointed out that monkey pox has the same resemblance with small pox but noted that monkey pox is not as deadly as the small pox that have been eliminated across the globe long ago.

According to them, the mode of its spread includes, direct blood contact with infected animal, eating half-done cooked meat of an infected animal, contact with infected person through cough or body fluid and using infected person cloths, beddings or other belongings. They also advocate for proper hand washing and personal hygiene.

Abe also stated that some of the symptoms include high fever, severe headache, then the pox which emanates in the face first before spreading to other parts of the body pointing out that after 21 days of the manifestation of the virus, it may not be possible to transmit the disease to other persons.

He maintained that in reporting cases of monkey pox, the child right act must be taken into consideration adding that UNICEF would continue to collaborate with the media in ensuring that the aims and objective of the agency is protected.

He also urged the people not to discriminate against people who were infected and treated as it may lead to suicide as witnessed in Bayelsa State where an infected person committed suicide.

However, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, stressed the effort of the state government in tackling promptly the outbreak of monkey pox in the state which was achieved due to the synergy of all concerned health professionals in the state.

He emphasised on the need for the public to take seriously the routine immunisations which are ongoing in the health facilities across the state.

In her paper presentation with the topic,: ‘Communication products on Monkey pox: dissemination and use’, the UNICEF communication Officer, Enugu Field Office, Mrs. Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe, said the objective of the meeting is to increase reportage of preventive messages and up-to-date and concise information on the monkey pox.

She encouraged journalists and media executives to create jingles and develop feature stories that would enlighten the people on dangers, symptoms and prevention of the monkey pox disease.

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