Travel Alerts

Monkeypox Outbreak Reaches 132 Confirmed Cases in Nigeria

Smallpox vaccine ACAM2000 reported 85 percent effective in preventing Monkeypox virus when given prophylactically

african children in the street

The African country of Nigeria with over 9 million citizens is currently experiencing an unusually large number of human Monkeypox cases. 

As of December 13, 2018, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reported 45 confirmed Monkeypox virus cases during 2018. 

The NCDC said in a website report that since September 2017, when this Monkeypox outbreak started in Nigeria, 311 suspected cases have been reported in 26 states, including 132 confirmed cases.   

Additionally, as of October 2018, 3 cases of Monkeypox have been reported in the United Kingdom and 1 case in Israel.   

This is important news since there is no cure or preventive vaccine for Monkeypox, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

To notify Americans planning to visit Nigeria, which is located on the western coast of central Africa the CDC issued a Level 2 Travel Alert on October 18, 2018.   

Previously, during the 2003 Monkeypox outbreak in the USA, the CDC confirmed 37 cases, led by the state of Wisconsin (18 ), Illinois (9 ), and Indiana (8).  

This was the first time human Monkeypox virus was reported outside of Africa. 

The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Refugees who have recently left DRC may harbor Monkeypox virus infection, but reports of this are rare, says the CDC.   

Monkeypox is a rare disease that occurs throughout remote parts of Central and West Africa, often near tropical rainforests. It is spread through contact with the monkeypox virus from an animal or human (alive or dead) or with materials contaminated with the virus, says the CDC. 

Symptoms begin with fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and exhaustion, and is followed by a rash. Patients are usually ill for 2-4 weeks. 

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There are 2 distinct genetic groups of monkeypox virus—Central African and West African. Human infections with the Central African monkeypox virus are typically more severe and have a higher mortality rate. 

Person-to-person spread is well-documented for Central African monkeypox virus and limited with West African monkeypox. 

The Monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae. 

The Orthopoxvirus genus also includes variola virus (the cause of smallpox), vaccinia virus (used in the smallpox vaccine), and cowpox virus, says the CDC.

Previously, a smallpox vaccine has been used prophylactically in Monkeypox virus outbreaks. 

Research suggests that the current smallpox vaccine, ACAM2000, is 85 percent effective in preventing Monkeypox when given before exposure to monkeypox, says the CDC.   

At this time, ACAM2000 has been stockpiled by the USA federal government for emergencies, and is strictly controlled for biodefense purposes and is not commercially available, according to the CDC. 

The CDC’s March 2018 travel notice for anyone visiting Nigeria includes the MMR, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella, polio, and the annual flu shot. 

Local travel vaccination pharmacies in the USA offer pre-trip counseling sessions and can help prepare need items for the Traveler’s Checklist. 

Please visit Vax-Before-Travel to schedule an appointment.