The recent Monkey pox outbreak in Bayelsa State in Nigeria is the third in the nation’s history. According to the Center for Disease Control, CDC, there were a total of 3 recorded human cases previously in 1971 and 1978.
The Monkey pox virus was first identified in 1970 as the cause of a smallpox-like illness in humans in remote African locations. Although, it was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name “monkey pox.”
Monkeypox is a rare viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms in humans similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although less severe. It is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, that belongs to the same family of viruses that includes variola virus (the cause of smallpox), vaccinia virus (used in the smallpox vaccine), and cowpox virus.
The monkeypox virus can cause an illness with a generalised vesicular skin rash, fever and painful jaw swelling. In previous outbreaks, it has led to death in about 1 -10 per cent of infected cases.
Transmission of the monkey pox virus:
- This usually occurs by direct contact with infected animals or possibly by consuming poorly cooked meat from an infected rodent or monkey.
- Human-to-human transmission can also occur from close contact with infected respiratory tract secretions, skin lesions of an infected person or objects recently contaminated by patient fluids or lesion materials. Transmission occurs primarily via droplet respiratory particles usually requiring prolonged face-to-face contact, which puts household members of active cases at greater risk of infection.
Signs & Symptoms
The following include signs and symptoms of the monkey pox virus:
- Shortness of breath.
After 2-4 days, a rash with papules and pustules develops most often on the face and chest including mucus membranes inside the nose and mouth. These pox lesions can ulcerate and then begin to heal in about 14-21 days. In addition, lymph nodes usually swell and some pox lesion may die.
Certain measures can be taken to prevent infection with Monkeypox virus.
- Avoiding contact with infected animals especially those that are sick or found dead in areas where Monkeypox occurs.
- Restricting or banning the movement of small African mammals and monkeys may be effective in slowing the expansion of the virus outside Africa.
- Washing of hands with soap and water after contact with animals or when caring for sick relatives humans or soiled beddings.
- Health-care workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed monkeypox virus infection, or handling specimens from them, should implement standard infection control precautions
All suspected cases should be reported to the Local Government Area or State Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers.
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. Nevertheless, prior smallpox vaccination will likely result in a milder disease course.