Very serious health alert for travellers from and to Nigeria
New outbreak of monkeypox, a rare and potentially deadly disease that manifests in disfiguring skin lesions, and for which there is no treatment.
Over 100 cases have already been confirmed, some of which have been fatal; according to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, three cases were diagnosed in the UK and Israel in travelers with recent travel to Nigeria.
For more information:
Why Should I be Concerned?
Monkeypox is a very rare disease. This current outbreak seems to be the West Africa strain, for which human-to-human transmission has not been documented, underscoring that the case load is likely to remain relatively low. There is no treatment or vaccine available.
Monkeypox is self-limiting, meaning that it generally resolves without treatment. Monkeypox is in the same genus as smallpox, so those who received the smallpox vaccine are likely protected from getting monkeypox or are more likely to have a less severe case. Past data from Africa suggests that having received the smallpox vaccine is at least 85% effective in preventing monkeypox. Smallpox, however, was eradicated in the 1980s, so routine vaccination against smallpox among the general public was stopped because it was no longer needed.
How do I Respond?
During human-to-human monkeypox outbreaks, close contact with other patients is the most significant risk factor for monkeypox infection. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are number of measures that can be taken to prevent infection with monkeypox virus:
- Avoid contact with animals that could harbor the virus (including animals that are sick or that have been found dead in areas where monkeypox occurs).
- Avoid contact with any materials, such as bedding, that has been in contact with a sick animal.
- Isolate infected patients from others who could be at risk for infection.
- Practice good hand hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans. For example, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Use personal protective equipment when caring for patients.
Who is Impacted?
Transmission of monkeypox virus occurs when a person comes into contact with the virus from an animal, human, or material contaminated with the virus. The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes.
Animal-to-human transmission may occur by bite or scratch, bush meat preparation, direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, or indirect contact with lesion material. In Africa, human infections have been documented through the handling of infected monkeys or rodents, with the latter being the major reservoir of the virus. Eating inadequately cooked meat of infected animals is a possible risk factor.
Human-to-human transmission is thought to occur primarily through large respiratory droplets– sneezing. However, transmission would require close and prolonged contact. Other human-to-human methods of transmission include direct contact with body fluids or lesion material or indirect contact with lesion material (ie. contaminated clothing or linens). Human-to-human transmission is has only been documented in the Central African strain of monkeypox. Still, precautions are needed to mitigate the potential human-to-human transmission. The Minister of Health advised that “Health care workers are strongly advised to always practice universal precautions while handling patients and/or body fluids at all times. They are also urged to be alert, be familiar with the symptoms of monkey pox and maintain a high index of suspicion.”