Monkeypox: FG Emplaces Intense Surveillance

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L-R: The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar; Director, agricultural land and climate change management service, Engr. Shehu Bello; and Director, veterinary and pest control services, Dr. Maimuna Habib during the press conference in Abuja.

The Federal Government has revealed that it has intensified 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 to help prevent the spread of the monkeypox.

Speaking during a press conference today (May 26, 2022) in Abuja, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, said though Nigeria has not recorded any case of the disease, the press briefing was necessary, as epidemiological investigations revealed travel links to endemic areas as the cause of the outbreaks.

According to him, though Nigeria has not recorded any case of monkeypox so far, the country is being vigilant because the world has become a global village and this epidemic will be mobile, as people always travel around the globe.

“Recently, there have been reported outbreaks of monkeypox disease in Europe and the Americas. Since the 13th of May 2022, cases of monkeypox have been reported to WHO from 12 member states that are not endemic for monkeypox virus across WHO regions; Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

“Monkeypox 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. Monkeypox 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 to 4 weeks with 3 to 6 per cent fatality rate.

“The disease is transmitted through close contact with an infected person or animal and material contaminated with the virus. The main means of transmission is usually spill-over 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 etc.,” he said.

He added that given the current outbreaks in Europe and the Americas, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was working assiduously in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Environment, relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government across various sectors and stakeholders to intensify efforts to guard against the outbreak in the country.

The minister posited that the press briefing became very necessary since the outbreak of the disease if left unchecked, would likely affect the population of the nation’s farmers and significantly lead to low agricultural production and productivity.

“The general public is hereby advised to avoid contact with animals that could harbour the virus, including animals that are sick or found dead where monkeypox occurs; avoid contact with any material such as bedding that has been in contact with a sick animal; practice good hand hygiene such as the washing of hands and the use of alcohol-based sanitisers after contact with infected animals or humans,” he added.

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