The Federal Government, through the National Centre for Disease Control, has denied executing vaccination against monkeypox in the South-East or any part of Nigeria.
The National Coordinator of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekwazu, while appearing before the Senate Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases in Abuja on Thursday, stated that the disease had no vaccine and the government was not conducting any immunisation against it, neither through civilian or military organisation.
He said, “We want to rule it out categorically. We are not vaccinating anywhere. Absolutely not! There is one vaccination exercise starting tomorrow (Friday) in Kwara on yellow fever in 18 local government areas and there are vaccination campaigns for other issues.
“No monkeypox vaccination. Do not participate in any of such. There are other vaccinations, which are being delivered to prevent diseases in our children but nothing like monkeypox vaccination.
“As far as I know, there is no agency of the Federal Government that is doing this – civilian or military. I have enquired; we have worked very closely with the Medical Corps of the Nigerian military.
“I met with them and I have been assured that nothing like that is going on anywhere in the country. A lot of these (reports) are rumours being spread for malicious reasons.”
Ihekwazu also explained that contrary to the belief that the disease was peculiar to monkeys, the virus could be contracted from rodents.
“The primary host is actually not a monkey, though it was first discovered in monkeys. The primary hosts are rats, squirrels and the family of what we call ‘bushmeats.’ Those are the animals we have to worry about,” he said.
He, however, noted that ‘bushmeats’ could be eaten when properly prepared.
“There is no risk in eating well cooked, well fried and well roasted meat. The risk is in preparing, cutting and managing. Whoever does that or plays with animals – especially sick animals – should wash his hands with soap and water or bleach, if they cannot use gloves,” he said.
The Chairman of the Committee on Primary Health and Communicable Diseases, Mao Ohuabunwa, said he was aware like many Nigerians that monkeypox could not be prevented with vaccines.
“It does not respond to vaccines and we do not have vaccines for monkeypox,” he said.
The Punch News