How monkey pox started in Bayelsa community – investigation

Residents of Agbura community in Ogbia Local Government Area where the suspected Monkey Pox epidemic started were not bothered about the disease, investigations showed yesterday.

It was also gathered contrary to insinuations the index case of the epidemic came down with the disease after consuming monkey, the teenager only had constant contact with a monkey, which he played with it as a pet.

When our correspondent visited the community, which is not far from Otuoke, the community of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the locals were seen going about their normal activities.

A commercial motorcyclist claimed he had never heard about the epidemic and directed our correspondent to speak to another resident, who identified himself simply as Nathan.

But Nathan said there was nothing serious about the monkey pox in the riverine community, adding the family of the index case resides on Unity Street around the area.

“We only heard that one family from the eastern part of the country travelled home where they are they ate monkey so when they came back to our community, some of them came down with the sickness,” he said.

At unity Street, our correspondent observed people around the area were going about their activities without fear.

Contrary to reports, neighbours had not relocated from the street.

A neighbour, who spoke in confidence, said only an 11-year-old boy and his six years old younger brother came down with symptoms of the epidemic.

He stated the case of the younger brother was not as severe as his elder brother.

Apart from the two victims, nobody living with them had come down with the sickness, the neigbour hinted.

He said parents of the victims had not shown signs of the epidemic, adding their mother owned a restaurant somewhere in Yenagoa, the state capital.

On how the victims could have contracted the suspected virus, he said: “We don’t really know. But all I can tell you is that one of the neighbours with a shop had a monkey.

“The victims used to play with the monkey. The monkey was like their pet. The monkey used to lick their bodies and climbed on them. That was all we know before their sickness occurred”.

It was gathered the victims were later taken away by health experts to the University Teaching Hospital Okolobiri where they were treated and brought back home.

The victims were reportedly asked to remain indoors, pending total recuperation.

The source said: “When the health experts came they asked our neighbour to take the monkey away. We don’t know where the monkey was taken to.

“But the experts have been coming around to check the health statuses of some people around here.

“They said they would soon carry out a general medical examination of everybody. But we don’t think it is anything serious”.

Bayelsa State Government has established a 12-member rapid response team consisting of top medical professionals and public health experts to check possible spread of the monkey pox.

Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebimitula Etebu, who set up the committee, reassured the epidemic was under control adding that there was not need to panic.

Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said government had embarked on practical steps to ensure the disease was prevented from spreading.

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