Says no cause for alarm, mounts surveillance at land, sea borders
Counsels Nigerians to stop patronizing bush meat
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Thursday, disclosed moves to contain and prevent outbreak of Monkey-pox in Nigeria.
This was made known by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, at a press conference held at the headquarters of the Ministry in Abuja.
Abubakar said the outbreak of Monkey-pox in parts of Europe prompted the move to prevent any possible penetration of the deadly virus on the shores of Nigeria.
According to him, as at May 13, 2022, cases of monkey pox have been reported to World Health Organisation, WHO, from 12 member states that are not endemic for monkey pox virus across WHO regions; Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
He also said that epidemiological investigations so far revealed travel links to endemic areas as the cause of the outbreaks.
He called on Nigerians to observe personal hygiene practices of washing of hands with soap, clean environment, and others.
He said: “Monkey pox is a zoonotic infectious disease which was first detected in 1958 in monkeys, rodents are now seen as possible means of transmission of the disease to man and animals.
“Monkey pox is primarily a disease of non-human primates like Chimpanzees. It is a self-limiting disease with symptoms of bump rashes in humans which is usually mild and lasts between 2-4 weeks with 3-6% fatality rate.
“The disease is transmitted through close contact with infected person or animal and material contaminated with the virus. The main means of transmission is usually due to spillover from animals, man to man transmission is less common. The disease clinically resembles smallpox.
“Some identified risk factors include hunting, illegal trade in wildlife, handling of wildlife in wildlife markets.
“In view of the current outbreaks in Europe and the Americas, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is working assiduously in collaboration with relevant sectors and stakeholders to intensify surveillance in the animal population and at the point of entry for wildlife as well as creating awareness among hunting communities and the general public on prevention of the disease.
“Generally, when you suspect an outbreak first of all there is focus on the area of the outbreak, and then you keep your eyes and ears wide open on all the necessary tools you have.
“Just like we just have COVID-19 pandemic, we are focusing on where it started and we are keeping our eyes open across.
“So in Nigeria officially we have not detected any case of Monkey-pox but since were bordering Cameroon and other countries including Ghana, where it has been detected you don’t know when somebody will cross because our borders are porous, and it is not only through vehicles people cross the borders, and we are keeping track and looking everywhere, and the southern part of Nigeria is a risk area because of the deep forest.
“Our Quarantine Service is one of our strategic agencies being strengthened definitely is being strengthened in terms of staffing and it is everywhere; major airports, and other points of entry, and we are doing everything humanly possible even before the Monkey-pox, the number of staff that would be policing our borders, and that is being done.
“The Quarantine Service working with the Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Customs, and others at the airports. There are field officers in all the states and working actively looking for the virus.”
However, the Minister also assured Nigerians that the Ministry has the capacity to treat Monkey-pox virus.
“We can test samples and analyse and understand what is happening, and the necessary areas for containment, treatment, where the person ought to be, and like I said we are not unawares of this virus, and we have the capacity to treat it and contain it.
“The Ministries of Health, Agric, and Environment and other MDAs that might also have the capacity to do so, and we also have 11 teaching hospitals including our Institute in Jos. We are ready to prevent it, and we ill do everything humanly possible that the disease do not entre Nigeria.
He also counseled Nigerians on avoiding wild markets, in essence eating bush meat, “That has the potential for Monkey-pox infection. Wild markets avoid them.”