The Nigerian government says it is cooperating with authorities in the United Kingdom (UK) to investigate outbreak of monkeypox, after two cases were discovered in the UK from patients with recent travel history from Nigeria.
In a statement on Wednesday by its Chief Executive Officer, Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said it is working with the UK’s public health agency; Public Health England (PHE), and other partners in Nigeria in the investigation.
PHE reported that two people were diagnosed with monkeypox in Britain in apparently unrelated cases.
According to the report published on its website, PHE said both patients are believed to have contracted the disease in Nigeria before travelling to England, and were diagnosed days apart.
The first patients who is said to be a Nigerian national was diagnosed with the disease in Cornwall last week while the second case was first presented at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Both patients are however said to be receiving appropriate care at Royal Infectious University, an expert respiratory infectious disease centre.
The deputy director of the National Infection Service at PHE, Nick Phin, said “We know that in September 2017 Nigeria experienced a large sustained outbreak of monkeypox and since then sporadic cases have continued to be reported.
“It is likely that monkeypox continues to circulate in Nigeria and could, therefore, affect travellers who are returning from this part of the world.
“However, it is very unusual to see two cases in such a relatively short space of time. We are working hard to contact individuals, including healthcare workers, that might have come into contact with the individual to provide information and health advice,” he said.
Monkeypox is a virus that is spread primarily from animals to humans, with symptoms such as fever, headache, body pain, malaise, lymphadenopathy (enlargement of glands), sore throat and the typical generalized vesicular rash.
Since the re-emergence of disease in Nigeria in September 2017 till end of August this year, 262 suspected cases were reported from 26 states, with the highest number coming from states in the South-south region.
Of this figure, 113 have been confirmed in 16 states with seven deaths.
Mr Ihekweazu, however, said the NCDC has been working closely with states across the country to strengthen surveillance, detection and response to cases of Monkeypox.
He noted that a Technical Working Group coordinated by NCDC and comprising partners from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF, US Centers for Disease Control (US CDC) and other agencies, meet weekly to ensure coordination.
He re-assured Nigerians of the agency’s capacity to effectively diagnose and respond to cases of Monkeypox.