West African countries would be expected to be on alert over recent rising cases of the virus transmitted to humans from animals called Monkeypox.

Monkeypox: What is it?

Monkeypox, as defined by World Health Organisation, is a rare disease that is commonly prevalent in remote parts of Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.

The viral disease was named monkeypox because it was first detected in a monkey. Research shows that it can also be found in humans and all bush animals such as rats, squirrels, and antelopes.

The disease is a member of the Orthopoxviral genus in the family Poxviridae. It was first identified in the State Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1958 during an investigation into a pox-like disease among monkeys.

The human Monkeypox can cause a fatal illness in humans and, although it is similar to human smallpox which has been eradicated, it is much milder.

It is contracted when in contact with the bodily fluid of an infected person or animal. Children and younger age-groups are susceptible to the disease.

Monkeypox can only be diagnosed through several laboratory tests.

Monkeypox In Bayelsa, Nigeria

The first case of the disease was reported on September 22 in Bayelsa State, in the South-south region of Nigeria, West Africa.

The state reported that 10 persons were detected to have the deadly virus and were being quarantined in an isolation centre at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state. The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) went further to about 49 others who are suspected to have contracted the disease. The isolation centre was created courtesy of the NCDC and the epidemiological team of the state’s Ministry of Health.

Be that as it may, Monkeypox remains a threat to both individual and communal health.

Amidst all the efforts the Nigerian government has registered the challenge of possibly infected persons running away from treatment. They encouraged such people to consider the overall health benefit of being attended to. They also advised all to be alert and observant.

History Of Monkeypox

Preben von Magnus in Copenhagen, Denmark first discovered the disease in monkeys in 1958. By 1970, it was found in a 9-year-old boy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then known as Zaire). From then till the year 1986, over 400 cases in humans had been reported. DRC experienced a major outbreak from 1996-97.

In 2003, an infected Gambian rat caused an outbreak of the disease in the United States. 2005 saw several outbreaks in Sudan and other parts of Africa. WHO recorded another epidermic between August and October 2016, in the Central African Republic with 26 cases and two deaths.


Wikipedia says small viral outbreaks with a death rate in the range of 10% and a second human to human infection rate of about the same amount occur routinely in equatorial Central and West Africa.

See Also: Top 10 Diseases in Africa – Most Deadly


The incubation period of monkeypox ranges from 5 to 21 days. It comes with symptoms such as fever, intense headache, lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph node), back pain, myalgia (muscle ache) and an intense asthenia (lack of energy).

Monkeypox comes with significantly big rashes that cover the entire body.


The commonest means of contracting monkeypox is through contact with body fluid of an infected person or animal.

Other related ways include the handling of infected monkeys, squirrels and rodents like Gambian giant rats; eating the inadequately cooked meat of infected animals.

The disease can also be transmitted through contact with stool, blood contact.


WHO says there are no available specific treatments or vaccines for monkeypox infection at the moment.

The good news, however, is that they can be controlled. According to the Nigerian Health Commissioner, the disease has an incubation period and it is also self-limiting in the sense that within two to four weeks, you get healed and it confers you with immunity for life.


Smallpox vaccines are effective in preventing monkeypox. But the challenge now is that the vaccine got out of stock with the global eradication of smallpox. Other preventive measures include:

  • Sensitizing the general public
  • Reporting to a medical facility when signs and symptoms set in.
  • Observe hand and overall hygiene.
  • Know what you eat. Inspect your meat before purchase and cook properly before consumption.
  • Practice good hand hygiene with or without contact with infected animals or humans. Wash hands regularly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Quick Facts You Should Know About Monkeypox

  • Monkeypox is a rare disease that occurs primarily in remote parts of Central and West Africa, near tropical rain forests.
  •  The viral disease can be found in animals like monkeys, chimpanzees, rabbits, prairie dogs, and Gambian rats.
  • Even though it is named after monkeys, the disease can affect humans. The reason behind its name is that it was discovered among monkeys in Denmark in 1958.
  •  It is caused by the orthopoxvirus family of viruses. That’s the same family illnesses like smallpox, chickenpox and camelpox belong to.
  •  To avoid animal-to-human transmission, thoroughly clean and cook bush meat before eating, ensuring the blood and all bodily fluids are absent.
  • There is no treatment or vaccine available although prior smallpox vaccination was highly effective in preventing monkeypox as well
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