The Borno State Ministry of Health has confirmed a monkey pox outbreak in the state.
Doctor Lawi Mshelia, the state Director of Public Health, stated on Monday that four suspected cases have been reported, with three of the cases confirmed by the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) after samples sent to the centre were returned positive.
Dr Lawi Mshelia goes on to say that two of the cases were reported from the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, where they are currently being treated, and the other from Biu in Southern Borno.
The director also revealed that one of the patients was discharged from the hospital about a week ago.
Residents and indigenes of the state were urged not to panic, as the Ministry of Health assured them that the situation is under control.
There have been growing concerns regarding monkeypox in recent times. Earlier in May, Nigeria recorded its first death from monkeypox since the beginning of the year 2022.
NCDC had revealed that within the last five months, there have been about 21 cases from eight states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
These include Adamawa – five, Lagos – four, Bayelsa – two, Delta – two, Cross River – two, FCT – two, Kano – two, Imo – one, and Rivers – one.
“The death was reported in a 40-year-old patient who had underlying co-morbidity and was on immunosuppressive medications,” NCDC Director-General, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, said in a statement on Sunday.
“Genomic surveillance is ongoing at NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory in Abuja and so far, all of the cases have been confirmed to be caused by West African clade Monkeypox virus.
“Among the 21 cases reported in 2022 so far, there has been no evidence of any new or unusual transmission of the virus, nor changes in its clinical manifestation documented (including symptoms, profile and virulence).”
Adetifa stated that the NCDC activated a national multisectoral Emergency Operations Centre for Monkeypox (MPX-EOC) at level two last Thursday, to strengthen and coordinate ongoing response activities in-country while contributing to the global response.
This, he explained, was based on the report of a preliminary risk assessment done by a group of Subject Matter Experts from the NCDC, as well as relevant government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and partner agencies.
Beyond the nation’s shores, there are concerns that the risk of monkey pox becoming established in non-endemic nations is real.
The World Health Organization (WHO) June warned that with more than a thousand cases now confirmed in such countries, the risk cannot be overlooked.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the UN health agency was not recommending mass vaccination against the virus and added that no deaths had been reported so far from the outbreaks.
He, however, asserted that “The risk of monkey pox becoming established in non-endemic countries is real”.
The zoonotic disease is endemic in humans in nine African countries but outbreaks have been reported in the past month in several other states — mostly in Europe, and notably in Britain, Spain and Portugal.
“More than 1,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox have now been reported to WHO from 29 countries that are not endemic for the disease,” Tedros said.
“So far, no deaths have been reported in these countries. Cases have been reported mainly, but not only, among men who have sex with men.
“Some countries are now beginning to report cases of apparent community transmission, including some cases in women.”
The initial symptoms of monkey pox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash.
Tedros said he was particularly concerned about the risk the virus poses to vulnerable groups, including pregnant women and children.