Residents of Bayelsa State are gripped with fear as a deadly viral epidemic known as “monkeypox” has broken out in the state.
The Punch reports that a medical doctor and 10 persons who came down with the monkeypox had been quarantined in an isolation centre at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri, in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state.
The NCDC and the epidemiological team were said to be tracking 49 other persons who were said to have come in contact with persons who were already infected.
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, confirmed the development, saying that samples of the virus had been sent to the World Health Organisation laboratory in Dakar, Senegal, for confirmation.
“Recently in Bayelsa State, we noticed a suspected outbreak of monkeypox. It has not been confirmed. We have sent samples to the World Health Organisation’s reference laboratory in Dakar, Senegal.
”When that comes out, we will be sure that it is confirmed. But from all indications, it points towards it.
”As the name implies, the virus was first seen in monkey, but can also be found in all bush animals such as rats, squirrels and antelopes.
”The source is usually all animals. It was first seen in monkeys and that is why it is called monkeypox. But every bush animals such as rats, squirrels, and antelopes are involved.
“So, the secretions from particularly dead animals are highly contagious.”
He listed the symptoms of monkeypox as severe headache, fever, back pains, etc., noting that most worrisome of all the signs are rashes bigger than those caused by chicken pox.
The commissioner said the rashes are usually frightening and usually spread to the entire body of infected persons.
“The only thing I will tell the general public is to observe hand hygiene and ensure they don’t come in contact with dead animals and their secretions. The disease is air-borne too. So when you come down with it, it is very infectious.
“People should wash their hands whenever they go in or come out of their houses. If they come in touch with animals, they should ensure that they wash their hands.
“They should be very vigilant. People should report any similar cases to the relevant authorities.
“A lot of people have come down with the symptoms, but they are hiding in their houses. If they hide, there is the propensity for the infection to spread.
“It is better to quarantine them and treat them so that we can interrupt the spread of the disease.
“People should be calm and they shouldn’t get frightened. The state has distributed personal protective equipment to workers and they are using them.”