The Federal Government has confirmed three cases of monkey pox in Yenagoa, Bayelsa, and urged Nigerians to avoid stigmatising people affected by the disease.
Prof. Isaac Adewole, the Minister of Health, told newsmen on Monday in Abuja that the federal government sent 21 samples to Dakar, Senegal, for laboratory analysis. He said government has received 19 results, and awaits two results.
According to him, four cases from Lagos are negative, 12 cases from Bayelsa are also negative, while three from Bayelsa are confirmed cases.
“With these results from the WHO Regional Laboratory in Dakar, Senegal, three suspected Monkey pox outbreak in Yenagoa has been confirmed with laboratory evidence,” he said.
He said on Sept. 22, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) received a report of a suspected case of Monkey pox virus disease from Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), Okolobiri, Bayelsa.
The minister said as at Oct. 13, there were 17 suspected cases reported from Yenagoa Local Government Area in Bayelsa.
He added that since the initial announcement of the outbreak a total of 43 other suspected cases have been reported from Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ekiti, Lagos, Enugu, Nasarawa and Rivers states as well FCT.
Adewole however said that government expects that many of these cases being reported from other states in Nigeria are not caused by the Monkey pox virus, and assured that government would continue to investigate all those cases that fit the case definition.
Adewole further added that the strain of monkey pox in the country was not deadly, and appealed to the public to avoid creating undue tension over the disease and desist from stigmatising the people affected by the disease.
“I am worried with this type of attitude people who have it might think the next thing is dead, so far no body died from the disease.
“We have lived with HIV; people affected by HIV are living a longer life, there are many infections such as hepatitis B and C and the people affected by the disease are living a longer life. We should not stigmatize this disease,” he said.
Dr Chike Ihekwazu, Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), said monkey pox is a largely self limiting disease for which all suspected cases reported in the country are doing well.
Ihekwazu added that Nigeria has not recorded any death from the disease, stressing that even before confirmation of the case, necessary public health measures are in place and they will continue to be implemented.
He said that the ministry, through the Nigerian Center for Disease Control, has established emergency operation centers to coordinate response across the states.
According to him, measures that can be taken to prevent infections from monkey pox include avoiding contact with squirrels, rats and other animals.
However, he noted that the largest peak period of contacting the infection, is in catching the animals not in eating the animals.
He further said in the event the animals are sick and dies from such sickness; people should avoid contact with such animals.
“Nigerians are advised to remain calm and supportive of public health authorities, avoid self-medication and report to the nearest health facility if feeling unwell or notice any symptoms in anyone around you,” he said. (NAN)