Benin, 9 August, 2022 – After four days of complaining of fever, headache, fatigue and cough, 40 years old Mr V Ehosa (not real name), a land seller residing in Benin, Edo State, tested positive for monkeypox.
Mr Ehosa got admitted to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Edo State, four days after he presented at the hospital with symptoms such as unusual body rashes, fever, and headache.
“The rashes covered my whole body, and I have no explanation on how I contracted the disease because I did not travel, eat bush meat or have no contact with bush or domestic animals in the last 30 days.
Before contracting the disease, I had limited knowledge of it, but now I know more about monkeypox and that the disease is contagious”.
Mr Ehosa said he gave the list of those he was in contact with within the last 14 days to the health officers for necessary contact tracing.
In the case of 22-year-old Osazee, a student residing in Benin city, he presented at the hospital with fever, nausea and itching lesions.
“I have been at home due to the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union Universities. I do not know how I contracted the disease but there is a dog in our compound, though I have no contact with it”, he said.
Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease endemic in Nigeria and some parts of Africa. However, there has been sporadic spread to other countries as more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported across more than 70 countries so far this year, and the number of confirmed infections rose 77% from late June through early July.
The virus is being transmitted from animals to humans.
Recently, WHO activated its highest alert level for the growing monkeypox outbreak, declaring the virus a public health emergency of international concern.
Since the beginning of the year, Nigeria has reported 357 suspected cases with 133 confirmed monkeypox cases from 25 states – Lagos, Adamawa, Delta, Rivers, Edo, Bayelsa, Nasarawa Plateau FCT, Ondo, Anambra Cross River, Kwara, Borno, Taraba, Oyo, Imo, Kano, Katsina, Gombe, Niger Ogun, Kogi, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom and Abia.
Meanwhile, eight persons have so far tested positive for monkeypox in Edo state, and all the people diagnosed with the disease have recovered.
The Director, Public Health, Edo State Ministry of Health (MOH), Dr Ojeifo Stephenson, said it has become imperative to warn the residents of the state about the health risks that the virus poses and reiterate the need to be cautious and adhere to preventive measures.
He said the state MOH with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, has ramped up surveillance, diagnostics and other activities to curb the spread of infectious diseases.
“We have stepped up surveillance including prompt investigation of suspected cases, facilitating documentation of contacts, contact tracing and monitoring, as well as developed and disseminated public health advisory to raise awareness about the disease among residents of the state,” he said.
Additionally, Dr Benson Okwara, who works at UBTH, said WHO has been an invaluable partner to the response of monkeypox diagnosis and treatment in the facility.
Dr Okwara has five years of experience in managing patients with monkeypox.
He lamented that the disease spreads within the communities because of the poor health-seeking behavior and late presentation of the case to the hospital.
“However, with WHO’s coordination, there is an early response following notification of suspected/confirmed cases with detailed case investigations using the monkeypox case investigation form (CIF) to collect data on patient contacts.
“There is a need for continuous risk messaging to educate people about infectious diseases and the importance of seeking medical care early and at appropriate health facilities to prevent the spread of diseases,” he said.
Across Nigeria, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), supported by WHO, has activated Monkeypox Emergency Operations Centre to strengthen in-country preparedness and contribute to the global response of the outbreak.
Furthermore, WHO is supporting the coordination of technical assistance and operational support of partners, including the national One-health risk surveillance and information sharing (NOHRSIS) group, to facilitate timely information exchange on all prioritized zoonotic diseases.
Dr Ibrahim Luka; Email: ibrahiml [at] who.int