By Joy Emmanuel Yenagoa—
Residents of Bayelsa state are in fear following a break of a deadly and strange viral epidemic known as monkeypox.
Monkeypox, according to the World Health Organisation, is a rare disease commonly found in remote parts of Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
Th e virus, explains WHO, “ can cause a fatal illness in humans and, although it is similar to human smallpox which has been eradicated, it is much milder.
” Findings revealed that a medical doctor and 10 others who carried the disease to the state were being quarantined in an isolation centre at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri, in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state.
Th e isolation centre , it was also gathered, was created by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control and the epidemiological team of the state’s Ministry of Health, to control further spread of the virus.
Both the agency and the team are currently tracking 49 other persons believed to have come in contact with the infected persons.
Speaking on the development, the state Commissioner for Health, Prof.
Ebitimitula Etebu, said samples of the virus had been sent to the WHO laboratory in Dakar, Senegal, for confi rmation.
He said: “Recently in Bayelsa state, we noticed a suspected outbreak of monkeypox.
It has not been confi rmed.
We have sent samples to the World Health Organisation’s reference laboratory in Dakar, Senegal.
”When that comes out, we will be sure that it is confi rmed.
But from all indications, it points towards it.
”As the name implies, the virus was fi rst seen in monkey, but can also be found in all bush animals such as rats, squirrels and antelopes.
”Th e source is usually all animals.
It was fi rst seen in monkeys and that is why it is called monkeypox.
But every bush animals such as rats, squirrels, and antelopes are involved.
“So, the secretions from particularly dead animals are highly contagious.
” He described monkeypox as a viral illness caused by a group of viruses that include chicken pox and smallpox, adding that the fi rst case was noticed in the Democratic Republic of Congo and subsequent outbreaks in West African region.