Amaka Agbu, Port Harcourt
Following the outbreak of Monkey Pox in neighbouring states and the suspected cases in the state, the Rivers State government has placed its personnel under the ministry of health on red alert to prevent the spread of the strange ailment in the state.
The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, said in Port Harcourt the three suspected persons have been taken for examination by Health officials of the state government.
According to him: “So far, we have three suspected cases in Rivers State: in Eneka, Rumueme and Rumuelumeni. Our heal officials took them in for medical examination. The one in Eneka is a 13 year old boy whose parents took to a native doctor for native treatment. The boy is free from the virus. The case in Rumueme, close to the psychiatric hospital, turned out to be measles, while the third case in Rumuolumeni is a case of infected heat rash.
“It is when the disease is confirmed before we usually take the blood samples of the victims. All three suspected cases were properly examined by our medical personnel. As I speak, we have no proven case of ‘Monkey Pox’ in Rivers State. Our Rapid Response Team in the ministry of health is on Red Alert. We have also contacted the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, UPTH, to prepare the isolation unit to receive victims while we reactive our isolation centre.”
The commissioner of health assured: “We have activated our isolation centre at Odoha in Emohua Local Government Area. I can confirm that all three suspected cases in Eneka, Rumueme and Rumuelumeni are negative of the ‘Monkey Pox’ virus. For now, Rivers State is free of the ‘Monkey Pox’ virus.
“The Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital, BSMH and our health centres have been told to prepare their emergency wards to accept all victims with symptoms that are related to that of the ‘Monkey Pox’ disease.
“Our health personnel have been placed on red alert. Our medical staff: men and women; doctors and nurses; the casuals and volunteers have been contacted and are ready to move in to evacuate any suspected victim of the ‘Monkey Pox’ disease.
“Rivers State is a neighbouring state to Bayelsa State were 11 cases have been confirmed and 49 people suspected to have had contact with those affected quarantined. So, we are taking all preventive measures to protect all residents of our state.” he said.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Ministry of Health have begun a state-wide enlightenment campaign on preventive measures that should be taken by residents of the state.
The numbers of three telephone hotlines have been released by the commissioner for health to enable members of the public contact health officials, saying that residents of the state could call any of the numbers as they are active 24 hours of the day. The numbers are: 08056109538; 09062277699 and 08033124314.
The commissioner for health stated that the ‘Monkey Pox’ virus is transmitted by monkeys and rodents. ‘Monkey Pox’ disease is a very rare disease which for now has no cure or vaccine. It can also be transmitted by rodent to rodents or by rodents to humans; or by humans who have been infected to other humans through body fluids or blood.”
Prof Chike informed that symptoms of ‘Monkey Pox’ are fever, intense headache; severe back pain; generalised weakness of the body; swelling of the limps; sore throat; rashes, the rashes could be generalised or localised; boils; muscular pains, among others.
“We are advising the public to observe general hygienic measures such as washing their hands with soap and water before and after attending to sick persons; wash their hands with soap after contact with live and dead animals; and avoid eating undercooked meat, bush meat, including monkeys,” he stated.
The Public Relations Officer of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, UPTH, Ken Elebida, said the university was on standby to receive victims suspected to have contacted the strange illness.
“The isolation unit of the hospital has been prepared to complement the
Rivers State containment facility, at Odoha, in Emohua. We are calling on members of the public to report any suspected case of ‘Monkey Pox’ to the hospital authority so that we can take prompt action,” he said.