The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has registered 59 suspected cases of Monkeypox , while 15 had been confirmed as of July 18 across the country.
The NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja, while reacting to the Dallas, Texas resident who recently returned from Nigeria and tested positive to the Monkeypox.
It was the first confirmed case of the virus in the U.S. since 2003, officials said the public should not be concerned.
Laboratory testing confirmed the patient was infected with a strain of the virus mainly seen in West Africa, which included Nigeria.
“While rare, this case is not a reason for alarm and we do not expect any threat to the general public,” Dallas County Judge, Clay Jenkins said in a statement by Dallas County’s health department.
“Because passengers were wearing masks on the flight and in the airport, the health department said it’s believed the risk of spread of the monkeypox via respiratory droplets to others on the planes and in the airports is low.”
Ihekweazu said that just as the agency responded to other epidemic prone diseases in the country, an outbreak would be declared when there was a large cluster of monkeypox cases that constituted an emergency.
He noted that the Federal Government of Nigeria was notified of the situation in Texas through the International Health Regulations (IHR) of a case of monkeypox disease, diagnosed in a patient who had recently visited Nigeria.
The NCDC boss said that since the re-emergence of monkeypox in the country in September 2017, the agency had continued to receive reports and respond to sporadic cases of the disease from states across the country.
He said the public health agency had been working closely with State Ministries of Health to strengthen monkeypox disease surveillance and response in the country.
“This includes the Enhanced Monkeypox Surveillance Project, where we have been training health workers across states to rapidly detect and manage cases.
“Our initial focus is on the states with the highest number of cases – Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers as well as Lagos.
“We will continue working with all states to strengthen monkeypox prevention, detection and control in Nigeria,” he explained.
He urged Nigerians to continue adhering to precautions that protected them from monkeypox and other infectious diseases.
“If you feel ill or have a sudden rash, please visit a hospital for diagnosis and management,” he advised.
Monkeypox, which is in the same family of viruses as smallpox, is a rare but potentially deadly viral infection that begins with flu-like symptoms and progresses to a rash on the face and body.
It tends to last two to four weeks. People who do not have symptoms are not capable of transmitting the virus.
Monkeypox infections of that strain are fatal in about 1 in 100 people, affecting those with weakened immune systems more strongly.