Monkey pox, as the name implies, was first seen in monkeys but can also be found in all bush animals such as rats, squirrels and antelopes. The outbreak which recently hit Bayelsa residents has resulted to panicking in the state. Although, not confirmed, samples of the virus has already been sent to World Health Organization (WHO) reference laboratory in Dakar, Senagal, for confirmation.
Encomium.ng outlines all you should know about the disease ravaging Bayelsa state:
* Monkeypox is a viral illness caused by a group of virus that include chicken pox and small pox.
* Its symptoms are similar to those of Smallpox which was eradicated in 1980 but less fatal.
* Monkeypox occurs occasionally in remote parts of Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
* Monkeypox was first identified in 1958 during an investigation into a pox-like disease among monkeys, which explains its name. In its natural state, monkeypox seems to infect rodents more often than humans.
* 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.
* Infected persons are isolated to avoid the spread of the disease because the disease is airborne and when contacted, it is very infectious.
* The virus has the central African and the west African types. The west African type is milder and has no record of mortality unlike in the case of the central African type.
* 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.”
* 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 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.
* It soon became endemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with a major outbreak in 1996.
* 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.
* 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.
* In 2005, another monkeypox outbreak occurred in Sudan with sporadic cases being reported from other parts of Africa.
* 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.
* Between August and October 2016, a monkeypox outbreak in the Central African Republic was contained with 26 cases and two deaths.
* 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.
* Its signs are rashes bigger than those caused by chicken pox.
* The rashes are usually frightening and usually spread to the entire body of infected persons.
* The symptoms usually manifest within 6 to 16 days of infection.
* The disease has an incubation period and it is also self-limiting in the sense that within two to four weeks, you get healed and it confers you with immunity for life.
* 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.
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.
- Chika Okorie