No treatment for Monkeypox, NCDC warns

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has said there are no specific treatments available for the monkeypox infection.

The centre also urged Nigerians to take certain measures to prevent contracting the disease.

This is just as the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, allayed the fears of Nigerians, saying the NCDC is doing everything possible to mitigate the spread of the disease.

The PUNCH reports that monkeypox, a rare disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae.

The disease, which according to the World Health Organisation, is endemic to West and Central African countries, has surfaced in some European countries.

While the NCDC noted that 15 out of the 46 suspected cases reported had been confirmed, countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Portugal, Spain, Israel, Lebanon and Canada among others have started to report cases.

The WHO in a statement it released last week noted that the outbreak of the monkeypox disease is being discovered in countries where it is not endemic.

But the NCDC’s post on its website, which was obtained by The PUNCH on Monday, noted that there are no specific treatments available for monkeypox.

The message read, “There are no specific treatments available for monkeypox infection, although various novel antiviral have in-vitro and animal data supportive effects such as Brincindofocir and Tecovirimat.

“Measures that can be taken to prevent infection with monkeypox virus include: avoiding contact with animals that could harbour the virus, both sick or dead animals in areas where monkeypox cases have occurred; avoiding contact with any material that has been in contact with a sick animal; thoroughly cooking any animal that might have come into contact with an infected animal; handling them with standard precautions and observing monkeypox symptoms for 30 days and washing with soap and water after contact with infected animals.”

Speaking in an interview with The PUNCH, Mamora said the NCDC was doing everything possible to enhance surveillance to mitigate the spread of the disease.

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“The NCDC is on it. The centre is doing all it takes in terms of surveillance, response and it is also putting in place certain measures to mitigate the spread.

“Just like we have the Lassa fever, the monkeypox is endemic to Nigeria but we have our agencies like the NCDC when it comes to response and I can assure you that they are totally on it,” the minister said.

A virologist at the University of Maiduguri, Prof Marycelin Baba, in a separate interview with The PUNCH also corroborated NCDC’s claims, calling for caution.

Baba said, “Monkeypox is said to be a mutation from smallpox. There was no treatment for smallpox during its time. The only breakthrough was when the smallpox vaccine was introduced. This means that if you were lucky to get vaccinated with the smallpox vaccine during your time, you can be a bit safe.

“Unfortunately, most people were not born during the time the world suffered from the smallpox pandemic. Smallpox was eradicated many decades ago.

“One of the problems we have in Nigeria for instance is the absence of sufficient diagnostic kits for viral diseases. If you cannot even diagnose, how do you want to treat the problem? I am not too sure if we still have smallpox vaccines anymore in the world but as it stands, the only solution right now is vaccine. Without vaccines, I am sorry we are not going to reach anywhere.”

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