According to WHO, monkeypox is a rare disease that occurs primarily in remote parts of Central and West Africa. The virus is transmitted from animals to humans and can cause a fatal illness in humans. The case fatality in the outbreak has been between 1% and 10%, with most deaths occurring in younger age groups.
Transmission of the virus comes from the direct contact with the blood and bodily fluids of infected animals. In Africa, human infections have been documented through the handling of infected monkeys, giant rats and squirrels. Consumption of inadequately cooked meat of infected animals is a possible risk factor. Secondary transmission comes from human-to-human contact. This includes the close contact with infected respiratory secretions, skin puncture on an infected person or objects recently contaminated by patient fluids or punctured skin materials. Transmission also occurs primarily via respiratory particles which usually require prolonged face-to-face contact.
Symptoms of the monkeypox are similar to those seen in the case of the smallpox, although milder. The interval from infection to the early stage of symptoms is usually from 6 to 16 days. The early stage is characterized by fever, intense headache, back pain and lack of energy. This is followed by the skin eruption period where the rashes appear, beginning on the face and then spreading over the body. The palms of the hands and the soles of the feet are most affected, with the rashes evolving to small fluid-filled blisters. Monkeypox is a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting from 14 to 21 days. Severe cases are related to the extent of virus exposure, patient health status and severity of complications. Younger age-groups are more susceptible to monkeypox.
The recent monkeypox outbreak in Bayelsa State will come as no shock considering the people’s appetite for what is referred to as “bush meat”. It is wise to:
- Avoid close physical contact with infected people. Gloves and protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill people. Regular hand washing should be carried out after caring for or visiting sick people
- Thoroughly cook all animal products before eating. Gloves and other appropriate protective clothing should be worn while handling sick animals or their infected tissues, and during slaughtering procedures.