• Scare In Ondo Over Monkey Bite
• States Open Dedicated Phone Numbers
• Lagos Awaits Lab Test, Monitor Suspects, Contacts
• Rivers, Edo Dispel Claims Of Vaccination
Another suspected case of Monkeypox was yesterday identified in Cross River, just as some states in the southern part of the country scramble to contain the spread of the disease by opening dedicated telephone lines to reach their medical rapid response teams.
Director General of Cross-River State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Betta Edu, said it was the second case, after the first one in Okuni, Ikom Council, last week
He stated that just like the one in Ikom, the suspect has been quarantined and all contacts traced and samples taken for testing, while dismissing reports of any cases in Etung or any other part of the state.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Inyang Asibong, explained that the suspected case in Ikom occurred just days after the suspect returned from a trip to Akwa Ibom State with symptoms.
He called on the public, especially those living around the suspect, to be careful and avoid close contact with him, as the incubation period of disease is usually from six to 16 days, but could range from five to 21 days.
She said the Disease Surveillance and Response team for the outbreak across the state had been put in place and the state epidemiology team has collected samples from the first suspect case and sent to Abuja for proper investigation, whilst they continue contact tracing and isolation of the suspect.
There was a scare on Tuesday in Akure, the Ondo State capital, when a monkey being kept as domestic pet bit a middle-aged woman in Akure South Council while feeding it, causing tension and anxiety among residents of the state, who blamed the health authorities for lack of proactive measures to protect the lives of the people in the face of widespread health risk.
The Guardian gathered that the victim was attended to in a health facility and advised to visit the State Specialist Hospital, Akure, without getting her details.
The source, a resident in the victim’s neighbourhood, recounted that she did not take the monkey bite seriously until later when she started feeling some pains and discomfort.
He disclosed that they had thought it was a whitlow because the spot started developing some blisters and pus within, adding: “When she started complaining, her friends and family then advised her to visit a nearby health centre for treatment or minor surgery.
“When she got to the health centre, one of the nurses, who attended to her, thought it was a whitlow and wanted to operate it, but there was no surgical blade in the health facility.”
“It was brought to the notice of the matron, who noticed that the affected part was more of a bite than whitlow. The woman then revealed that she was bitten by the monkey they reared in her house when trying to feed it.”
Nonetheless, the source noted that the matron immediately referred the woman to the State Specialist Hospital in Akure for further treatment.
Similarly, the Lagos State Government has said that the state recorded two suspected cases and the blood samples of the suspects have been taken for laboratory test and confirmation, beyond clinical confirmation.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, yesterday said the ministry was still expecting the result, while following them up with their contacts at their homes, just as the surveillance team remains on the alert to prevent a new case, adding: “We have sent fact sheet to raise the level of suspicion of health workers.”
Beyond the media frenzy, misinformation and misconception about the disease, social interaction among residents has remained cordial.
Despite rumours that people were avoiding handshakes and other interactions, residents went about their normal businesses, oblivious of the momentum the news of the disease was having globally.
Some residents who spoke with The Guardian said they never heard of the disease until the government began to make the announcement on radio and television stations in the state. Beyond that, they all went about their daily routine since the outbreak was first made public.
Normal activities were taking place on Thursday and yesterday at Agbura, where the first index case was recorded, when The Guardian visited. Children were playing without a care, adults, mostly traders, Okada operators, artisans and farmers, went about their daily activities without any scare.
There was nothing to betray the incident that had drawn global attention, except for the unusual traffic of visitors to the town.
Though most of the people refused to speak, an indigene finally opened up and eventually directed The Guardian to the street where the first victim resided with his parents.
In Rivers, the state government has dismissed reports that pupils in schools were being vaccinated against Monkeypox by the military as a depopulation mechanism.
Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, said there was no confirmed case in the state, neither was there any vaccine for the disease.
Reacting to reports that parents were withdrawing their wards from schools yesterday following allegation that the military had embarked on immunisation of pupils and injecting them with some form of poison, Chike, who described the rumours as mischievous and misleading, explained that those behind the false information were merely bent on discrediting the health system in the state.
He pointed out that though measles pox and Monkeypox are related viruses, they are not the same, adding that the ministry has embarked on routine immunisation intensification, as specified by the World Health Organisation (EHO), in Port Harcourt, Akuku Toru, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Ahoada West, Degema and Bonny Councils and the vaccines being used are potent and effective.
In Benin City, the Edo State Government has called on residents to disregard rumours making the rounds that the disease had spread to the state.
The government also debunked claims that vaccination against the disease was being carried out in primary schools across the state, urging parents to remain calm, as no immunisation exercise against the disease was ongoing.
Special Adviser on Basic Education to the Governor, Dr. Joan Osa Oviawe, said yesterday at the Government House, in response to alerts on the spread of the disease, noting that government had set up a situation room to monitor the outbreak.
“Parents should stay calm and disregard false rumours about vaccination and Monkeypox outbreak. Public schools will be notified accordingly if there was outbreak in the state.
“We call on everyone in the state not to give in to mass hysteria. If the state schedules an immunisation exercise, we would duly inform parents through the school administrators. Parents should return their children to school without fear. The state government is closely monitoring the situation,” she stated.
She cautioned rumour-mongers to desist from creating unnecessary tension in the state, advising parents to ensure they communicated with the right sources in the state, so as not to endanger the lives of their children as a result of unfounded rumours.
Meanwhile, most state governments, especially in the South-South, have opened dedicated phone numbers and embarked on massive sensitisation to enable residents communicate quickly on suspected cases.