BY ROSEMARY NWAEBUNI
In view of the outbreak of monkey pox in some states of the country,the Delta State Government has said that it is prepared to wage an effective war against the disease as the state‘s Rapid Response Team has been placed on red alert to respond to emergencies wherever they may occur in the state.
The state Commissioner for Health,Dr. Nicholas Azinge,who stated this yesterday in a broadcast,said that the state,through the Ministry of Health,was collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO) in taking proactive measures to combat the disease in the event of it occurring in the state.
He urged the general public not to panic as adequate arrangements have been made to prevent and curtail the outbreak of the diseases in Delta State and disclosed that the Disease Surveillance Officers in the 25 local government areas were last week sensitised by the ministry, in conjunction with WHO,saying that sensitisation of other health workers in the state was being planned.
According to him,“Disease outbreak prevention and case management materials have been pre-positioned in the local government areas having common borders with Bayelsa State to forestall possible importation of the disease”.
While saying that radio and television jingles meant to inform but not to alarm the general public was being planned,he said that arrangements have been concluded with National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for the rapid transfer of samples collected from suspected cases to WHO reference laboratory in Dakar,,Senegal,for confirmation.
“In addition,we are going to maintain constant border patrol of the three local government areas – Patani,Bomadi and Burutu – that have common borders with Bayelsa State to forestall possible importation of the disease,”he assured.
Azinge said that Monkey pox is a rare disease that occurs primarily in remote parts of Central and West Africa,near tropical rainforests and added that it is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms in humans similar to those seen in the past in small pox patients,though less severe.
The Commissioner for Health said that the disease could be transmitted via direct contact with the blood,bodily fluids, or cutaneous or mucosal lesions of infected animals such as monkeys, rats and squirrels.“Secondary,or human-to-human,transmission can result from close contact with infected respiratory tract secretions,skin lesions of an infected person or objects recently contaminated by patient fluids or lesion materials,” he noted.
While saying that the disease treatment is conservative as there is no available vaccine,Azinge highlighted the disease symptoms to include,fever,intense headache, lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph node),back pain,myalgia (muscle ache);an intense asthenia (lack of energy);and rashes which begins from the face and spread to other parts of the body including the palm and sole of the feet.
Others, he said are rashes (beginning on the face and then spreading elsewhere on the body) and added that the rashes may affect the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.He said, “The incubation period (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) of monkey pox is usually from 6 to 16 days but can range from five to 21 days.Monkey pox is usually a self-limited disease with the symptoms lasting from 14 to 21 days.
“If you notice any of these signs and symptoms,please go to the nearest health centre or hospital immediately or call the following emergency numbers:07037120510 and 08036680784.”
Meanwhile, the Senate has urged the Federal Government to liaise with the World Health Organisation and other donor agencies for contingencies against eventualities as Nigeria fights against monkeypox.
This was part of the prayers of a motion moved by Senator Ali Wakili (Bauchi-South),titled ‘Urgent Need for Proactive Steps to Nip in the Bud Reported Outbreak of Monkeypox Disease in Nigeria,’which the Senate adopted at the plenary yesterday.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly also urged the Federal Government,through the Ministry of Health,state and local governments,to be proactive in containing and preventing the disease from spreading beyond where it had been reported.
The lawmakers also called for aggressive enlightenment and education of the citizens on measures that could be taken to mitigate risk factors of exposure to the virus,while seeking a sustained public health education messages through media platforms.
Wakili,while moving the motion,said the Senate was worried that “there are no specific treatments in the provision or availability of vaccine for monkeypox infection and that Nigerians have been thrown into panic,as the country’s health sector is facing a myriad of challenges.”
He added,“The Senate is disturbed that since there is no vaccine or specific treatment,the only ways to reduce the infection in people is through awareness of risk factors,enlightenment about measures to be taken to reduce exposure to the virus,reduction of possibility of animal to human transmission,and through cooking of all animal products before consumption.”