The return of monkeypox, aliment that has no cure, 39 years after
The current suspected monkey pox outbreak in Nigeria, which has now spread to seven states, is the third in the nation’s history. There were a total of three recorded human cases previously in 1971 and 1978 according to the Centres for Disease Control, CDC. The virus was first isolated from colonies of monkeys kept for research, hence the name “monkey pox.” The first recorded human case of monkey pox was in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox. There were also reports of cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The following year, 1971, there was one case in Cote d’Ivoire and two cases in Nigeria. Then in 1976 there were two cases in Cameroon and again in Nigeria, in 1978, one case was recorded. Since then, monkey pox has remained strictly a disease of Central and Western African countries, except in 2003, when 47 cases were reported in the US. The 2003 US outbreak is the only time monkey pox infections in humans were documented outside of Africa. Most of those affected had close contact with pet prairie dogs believed to have had contact with animals that were imported. The current outbreak in Nigeria is of West African origin and associated with milder disease, fewer deaths, and limited human-to-human transmission. Studies have shown that the monkey pox virus can cause a fatal illness in humans and, although it is similar to human smallpox which has been eradicated, it is much milder. A professor of virology and former President, Nigeria Academy of Science, Professor Oyewale Tomori, described as a shame Nigeria’s inability to diagnose monkey pox. Tomori, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard from the US, remarked: “It is indeed a shame for us in this country that, nearly 60 years after our so called independence, we are still unable to confirm a case of most diseases without sending our samples to laboratories overseas. “And which overseas, are we talking about. Senegal! Just imagine. And there was a time when our laboratory system was able to confirm many of these diseases, now, none of these diseases are we able to confirm. “We do not have appropriate and well equipped laboratory facilities to definitely confirm suspected cases. Samples have been sent to Dakar and plans are being made to send additional samples to the smallpox laboratories of the WHO Collaborating Center for Smallpox and other Poxvirus Infections at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta”.