The World Health Organisation’s regional laboratory in Dakar, Senegal has confirmed three cases in the Nigerian state of Bayelsa positive for monkey pox, the country’s health ministry said Monday.
The number of cases suspected to be monkey pox in Bayelsa’s Yenagoa local government alone has risen to 17 by October 31, most of them people believed to have been in contact with those affected.
The three cases testing positive for monkey pox are among samples taken from all 17 people in Bayelsa for testing in Dakar.
“Samples from 12 others from Bayelsa were negative, and we are awaiting two results,” said health minister Isaac Adewole.
Suspected cases have risen to 43 across the country, reported in eight states— Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ekiti, Lagos, Enugu, Nasarawa, Rivers, and FCT.
Officials have maintained a high level of suspicion, and authorities have set up quarantine units ahead of possible infection, but not all suspected cases are expected to be positive.
Four of the reported infections in Lagos have tested negative for monkey pox virus.
“We expect that many of these cases being reported from other states in Nigeria are not caused by the Monkeypox virus, but we will continue to investigate all those cases that fit the case definition,” said Adewole.
“Further laboratory tests using whole genome sequencing are being carried out by the Africa Centre for Genomics and Infectious Diseases in Redeemers University Ede, Ogun State.
“It is important to note that there has been no confirmation of Monkeypox in any other part of the country, and it is likely that many of the other cases being reported are not caused by the monkey pox virus. Nigerians should continue to be vigilant at all times,” he noted.
All suspected patients reported to date are recovering, officials said, noting five of them have been removed from hospitalization in Bayelsa, even before the confirmation came in this week.
The viral disease has no specific treatment, but recovery is certain when it is caught early on and patients placed in supportive management and care to treat symptoms.
Monkey pox begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion before the rash on face, palms and soles appears and lymph nodes swell.
The incubation period (time from infection to symptoms) for is usually 7-14 days but can range from 5-21 days.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has issued an advisory to help prevent spread of monkey pox virus. It advises avoiding contact with squirrels, rats and similar animals, especially when these animals are sick or found dead in areas where the monkey pox virus is circulating.
The public is advised to always wash hands with soap and water after contact with animals or when caring for sick relatives, it adds.