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Controlling the Rapid Spread of Monkeypox in Nigeria – What must be done!

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According to reports, the monkeypox virus infection that results in the disease is contagious and zoonotic (spread from animals to people). Humans contract the virus from infected animals, usually rats. When a person comes into contact with another person who is infected with the virus, there is also a chance of human-to-human transmission of the illness. In addition, the virus that causes monkeypox can be spread by contact with contaminated objects.

The symptoms of Monkeypox are similar to that of smallpox infection. Among others, they include chills, unusual exhaustion, swollen lymph nodes (glands), chills, fever, skin rash (which resembles blisters), headache, and backache. The duration of manifestation of these symptoms may persist for two to three weeks. This indicates that the incubation period (from infection to symptom manifestation) is roughly 14 to 21 days; during this time, a person cannot tell if they have monkeypox.

In an effort to stop the spread of the monkeypox disease, the Federal Government of Nigeria recently outlawed the sale and consumption of bush meats. Following the formal detection of monkeypox in Nigeria by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control on May 29, 2022, the ban was announced through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. As of the aforementioned date, the virus had infected 21 additional people in addition to the one verified death.

Dr. Abubakar Mohammed, the minister of agriculture, released a statement requesting bush meat hunters and sellers to cease operations. The Agriculture Minister stated that “bushmeat hunters and merchants must cease their behaviour to avoid any potential of’spill over’ of the virus in Nigeria. Transport of wild animals and their products should stop or be regulated both inside and beyond borders. To avoid interactions and potential food contamination with the monkeypox virus, silos, stores, and other agricultural storage facilities must use proactive rodent control methods. Dr. Abubakar demanded that the owners of zoos, parks, and conservation and recreation facilities that house non-human primates to strictly enforce biosecurity standards to avoid human interaction. Then he instructed his countrymen to notify the closest medical or veterinary clinic of any lesions like the pox they noticed on people or animals.

In a recent post reported by the NCDC on its website mentioned that sexual activity can potentially spread the monkeypox virus. The NCDC’s website on the disease’s symptoms stated in part, “…After one to three days of fever, the rash breaks out, first on the face and extending to the body with the face and palms/soles being primarily affected. Contact during sex is one way that they can spread because they can also happen in and around the genitalia.

It should be emphasised that the Monkeypox virus is more deadly when it infects people with underlying medical conditions or those who are already ill since their immune systems are not equipped to fight off such illnesses.

Avoiding contact with animals that may carry the virus, including ill or dead animals in locations where instances of monkeypox have occurred, is one measure that can be taken to prevent infection with the virus, according to NCDC. avoiding anything that may have come into contact with a sick animal; Any animal that may have had contact with an infected animal should be properly cooked, handled with care, and monitored for 30 days for signs of monkeypox. Contact with infected animals should be followed by washing with soap and water.

All of us have a part to play in promoting healthy hygiene habits, including routine hand washing as one of the preventive strategies. Other precautions include avoiding contact with people and animals that may be carrying the monkeypox virus. Another effective precaution to avoid contracting monkeypox is to wear a mask, which has become our new norm since the COVID-19 outbreak. Because the monkeypox virus enters the body through the mucous membranes (nose, mouth, and eyes), respiratory tracts, and injured skin, these preventive measures are crucial in the fight against this pox disease.

Governments at all levels are required to increase surveillance to stop an outbreak because there is a high likelihood that the disease will spread easily in rural regions if the residents are not sufficiently educated about it and, as a result, will not be aware of the proper safety precautions to take. The awareness campaign should be expanded to include primary health care facilities, marketplaces, and farms where the less advantaged and educated may congregate rather than remaining on platforms that are solely accessible to the educated class. Increasing grassroots public awareness would result in better knowledge of illness mitigation, control, and prevention, which ultimately saves lives.

Unfortunately, there is now no known safe therapy for monkeypox, which means there is also no known cure. As a result, it is up to each of us to take personal precautions to stay healthy. The smallpox vaccination and antivirals can be used to stop epidemics of monkey pox. When Nigerians experience malaria symptoms, it is equally crucial that they undergo medical testing because monkeypox symptoms are quite similar to those of malaria.

The warning indications and omens of the monkeypox outbreak must not be ignored as it becomes vital for everyone to be on red alert in order to prevent a worldwide health crisis, as COVID-19 did!

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