[May 17, 2018] A Press Release issued by the Minister of Public Health, Andre Mama Fouda, communicates an ongoing epidemic of Monkey Pox Virus in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, with high tendency of spread to neighboring district areas. According to the press release, ,,,,[Download a copy > English | French]
[April 30, 2018] the epidemiological surveillance system recorded cases of Human Monkey Pox Virus in the Health Districts of Njikwa, Momo Division and Akwaya, Manyu Division, in the North West and South West Regions respectively.
From the information, immediately, upon notification of the Minister, a preliminary investigation result of [May 14, 2018 - (two weeks later)] confirmed the presence of the Human Monkey Pox virus, with a high tendency of spread to neighboring Health District. The Minister stated that, an in dept investigation is underway to assess the magnitude of the epidemic, in other to take the most appropriate measures to put it under control. Unfortunately, the press release did not mention how many suspected cases were identified, how many confirmed cases were identified, whether or not there is any case of mortality, and how the cases were/are being managed.
Also, the public is still not aware of the temporary measures already taken to limit the spread to other Health District as stated by the press release. It would have been of utmost important for the public to know the current trend of the epidemic [whether it is increasing or decreasing, and the morbidity, that is, if there are any new cases] amongst the population or health personnel.
Emergency Measures To Be Taken By The Population
The population must, at this point collaborate well with health personnel;
Take or report all cases of fever and skin rash to the nearest health facility;
DO NOT consume any animal found death;
DO NOT create contact with sick or death animal;
What Is Monkey Pox Virus
Monkeypox is a zoonotic orthopoxvirus with a similar disease presentation to smallpox in humans, with the additional distinguishing symptom of lymphdenopathy. After an initial febrile prodrome, a centrifugally distributed maculopapular rash develops, with lesions often present on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
The infection can last up to 4 weeks, until crusts separate and a fresh layer of skin is formed. Sequelae include secondary bacterial infections, respiratory distress, bronchopneumonia, gastrointestinal involvement, dehydration, encephalitis, and ocular infections, which can result in permanent corneal scarring.
No specific treatment for a monkeypox virus infection currently exists, and patients are managed with supportive care and symptomatic treatment. In persons who have not been vaccinated against smallpox, which offers cross-protection, the case fatality rate is 11%. Human-to-human transmission occurs via respiratory droplets and contact with lesions that contain the virus - World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
There is always an ongoing surveillance of diseases and outbreaks, and the detection of an outbreak may simply mean an effective surveillance system. However, the bigger challenge in every surveillance system is its ability to put the epidemic outbreak under control. Increase morbidity and/or mortality of the outbreak will only mean a poor surveillance system, which may directly reflect loop holes or weaknesses at the level of the infrastructure [at the level of the Work Force, physical infrastructure or at the level of communication and data management technology].
Epidemic outbreak is usually a wake up call for both nationals and international institutions to reinforce their surveillance system, so that outbreaks can be prevented from occurring, or timely put under control with the most minimum morbidity and mortality. The main goal of a surveillance system is to respond promptly to such situations, putting it under control as timely as possible.
Nkengacha Marcellous Agendia
Medical Laboratory Scientist/SMPH
Founder, PH Health Foundation - Center for Health Promotion