At least 11 persons, including a medical doctor, suspected to have been infected with a new viral disease known as monkey pox have been quarantined in Bayelsa. THISDAY learnt that those affected were taken to an isolation centre created at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH) Okolobiri, Yenagoa Local Government Area.

The isolation centre was reportedly created by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the epidemiological team of the state’s Ministry of Health to stop the spread of the virus. Aside the 11, the NCDC and the epidemiological team were said to be tracking 49 other cases, who were said to have come in contact with the infected persons.

The state Commissioner for Health Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, who confirmed the development said samples of the virus had been sent to the World Health Organisation Laboratory in Dakar, Senegal for confirmation. According to him, monkey pox is a viral illness caused by a group of viruses that include chicken pox and small pox. He added that the first case was noticed in the Democratic Republic of Congo and subsequently it had outbreaks in West African region.

He added: “The source is usually all animals. It was first seen in monkeys and that is why it is called monkey pox. But every bush animals like rats, squirrels, antelopes are involved. So, the secretions from particularly dead animals are highly contagious.” Etebu listed the symptoms of monkey pox as severe headache, fever, back pains amongst other symptoms, adding that most worrisome of all the signs were rashes bigger than those caused by chicken pox.

He said the rashes are usually frightening and usually spread to the whole body of an infected persons. Etebu said the disease was noticed first in Agbura where somebody was purported to have killed and eaten a monkey and after that the people who are neighbours and families started developing these rashes.

DailyTimes