Yenagoa – The Bayelsa Government on Thursday allayed fears of possible epidemic following the outbreak of a contagious viral disease called “monkey pox” in the state.
The state’s Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenogoa that the state government was on top of the situation.
Etebu said that the government had contained the outbreak and commenced public sensitisation to curtail spread of the virus.
He added that the focus of the enlightenment was enhanced personal hygiene and vigilance with wild animals, the primary vectors of the virus.
The commissioner said “the situation is under control but we are taking further steps to enlighten the public about personal hygiene and to be careful with any wild animals around them.
“We are harping on increased washing of hands.
“We are also working with Veterinary Unit of Ministry of Agriculture to increase surveillance at abattoirs where animals are slaughtered for human consumption.”
Etebu disclosed that 11 persons, including a medical doctor, had been quarantined at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), Okolobiri in Yenagoa Local Government Area.
He said samples of the virus had been sent to World Health Organisation reference laboratory in Dakar for confirmation.
He explained that “as the name implies, the virus was first seen in monkeys but can also be found in all bush animals such as rats, squirrels and antelopes, and that is why our surveillance on edible animals has to be heightened.
“The source is usually animals. It was first seen in monkeys and that is why it is called monkey pox.
“Secretions from particularly dead animals are highly contagious, so also the fluids from infected persons.”
The commissioner recalled that the first index case came from Agbura in Yenagoa where somebody was purported to have killed and ate monkey meat and started developing rashes.