Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported an outbreak of a rare monkey pox disease in Bayelsa state of Nigeria.
The disease first presented in an 11-year-old boy who’s been placed on treatment at Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH) in Yenagoa.
Eleven other people with similar conditions are also on treatment.
Epidemiologists continue to trace others who may have had contact with any of those infected.
“As at 1st October 2017, 32 close contacts of the cases have been identified, advised appropriately and are being monitored,” said NCDC chief executive Chikwe Ihekweazu.
“As the outbreak investigation and response continues, the Bayelsa State Government has started an aggressive public enlightenment campaign to advise clinicians and the public on the symptoms of the disease and the steps required to manage the cases and to prevent further spread,” he said.
“NCDC has also collected appropriate clinical samples from the cases and these are being analysed through the National Reference Laboratory in Abuja.”
Monkey pox is a viral disease similar to chicken pox and small pox.
But it is so rare, it was last reported in Nigeria in the 1970s.
It is primarily transmitted from animals to humans, but subsequent human-to-human transmission is limited.
Squirrels, rats and sometimes, monkeys commonly carry monkey pox and authorities have warned about close contact with them
The illness shows symptoms that include skin rash, fever and painful jaw swelling.
Only around one in 10 people infected die from it.
There’s no specific treatment for monkey pox but supportive care can help patients recover fully.
NCDC has advised washing hands with soap and water after contact with animals or when caring for sick relatives humans or soiled beddings.
The centre has called for calm and prompt attendance at the nearest health centre when feeling unwell.
“Health care workers are strongly advised to practice universal precautions while handling patients and/or body fluids at all times,” said Ihekweazu.
“As long as universal infection prevention and control practices are strictly adhered to by all clinical staff, the chances of transmission are minimal.”