By: Mark B. Dumbar
MONROVIA-The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) have confirmed the outbreak of Monkey-pot in Liberia and has called on Liberians not to panic as the capacity to hinder the disease.
Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah is Liberia’s Minister of Health who confirmed during a press conference that health practitioners are treating a male, 43 years old, from pleebo Maryland County who was recently diagnosed with the monkeypox virus adding that the infected person has been taken into isolation and undergoing medical treatment.
Providing more detailed information at the regular press briefing Thursday, July 28, 2022 at the Ministry of Information Cultural, Affaire and Tourism (MICAT), the Deputy Director General for Technical Services at NPHIL, Dr. Julius S.M Gilayeneh Sr explained that a case was confirmed Monday, July 25, 2022 in Maryland County through the NPHIL’s Reference Laboratory by the Minister of Health, Wilhelmina Jallah.
He noted, “That the Maryland health sector has activated the incident management system in response to health cases within the county.”
In addition, he said the Public authorities will continue to provide technical assistance in support of the county’s health sector.
According to him, they have reached out to Maryland County to enhance surveillance across all communities and to look around for cases actively.
He mentioned that the county has communicated with the counter- parts to look out for cases of Monkey-pox that may be residing in the area.
Dr Gilayeneh furthered that they are not only working with Maryland county, but other counties that are bordering neighboring Countries should be on the watch to report any case of Monkey-pox in Liberia.
July 23, 2022, the National Public Health confirmed a positive case of Monkey Pox, which the World Health Organization has been duly notified about in line with the International Health Regulations (2005) protocol.
He noted, “That the disease comes with fever, headache, muscle pains, blistering rash, and swollen lymph.”
He further narrated that the disease is transmitted from animal to human through contact and from human to human through respiratory droplets, contact with lesions and other body fluids.
Currently, NPHIL has heightened surveillance in Maryland and adjacent counties as well as at all ports of entry.
According to him, the health authority has put into place guidelines that the public needs to follow to keep them out of harm’s way.
As part of the regulation, the health worker said, people should avoid contact with animals that could harbor the virus including animals that are sick or that have been found dead, they should report any skin disease or strange illness that looks like chicken pox, report all cases of individuals presenting with fever, headaches, muscle pains, blistering rash, and swollen lymph.
They also said the public should immediately isolate anyone showing the above signs and symptoms and contact the health authorities.
History of Monkey-Pox in Liberia
In 2018, the United State Center for Disease Control confirmed the first case of the Monkey-pot disease in Liberia.
Monkey-pox previously thought to be endemic only in West and Central Africa, is now being reported outside Africa in other regions around the world.
According to the report, the reasons for this unusual pattern are unknown currently.
The World Health Organization July 22, 2022, reported 16,000 confirmed cases globally from 70 countries in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
However, Dr. Gilayeneh narrated that Monkey-pox is a rare viral zoonotic disease with symptoms in humans like smallpox.
Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.
The virus was first identified in humans in 1970 in the democratic republic of Congo in a 9-month-old boy.
Since 1970, human cases of monkeypox have been reported in some African countries such as, Benin, Cameroon, The Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Sudan.
The recent outbreak was confirmed in England, May 2022.
But with all of these, does Liberia as a country has the capacity to with or control this health crisis has been the concern of many Liberians.
Responding to the concerns of Liberians, Liberia’s Health Minister said the Country has the capacity to detect and conduct an analysis of monkeypox samples with 24hrs so there is no need for panic.
She also said Liberia has strengthened its surveillance system to ensure ascribe case detection at the port of entry in the country.