The prospect of monkeypox, the highly contagious skin disease, gaining a foothold in Lagos, is a very scary one indeed.
That's a monumental disaster waiting to happen in this city of over 22 million people.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Jide Idris last said “no confirmed case of monkeypox” has been recorded in the city. But his 'no-case submission' has since been overtaken by events.
Monkeypox is a highly contagious, virulent disease that leaves its victims with plenty of rashes from head to toe. It is contracted from droppings, fluids or secretions of animals.
Its first vectors were monkeys and rodents. You could get infected with monkeypox from consuming farm and bush animals. Precautionary measures include washing your hands as frequently as possible.
Agbura, Yenagoa in Bayelsa State, is where the index case of monkeypox in Nigeria was recorded on September 22, 2017. Since then, isolated cases of the disease have been recorded in a handful of States in Nigeria with a few reports indicating that the disease has found its way into Lagos.
Chikwe Ihekweazu who is the National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer of NCDC (National Centre for Disease Control) listed affected monkeypox States as Bayelsa, Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ogun and Cross River.
Ihekweazu also added that samples had been collected from each suspected case for laboratory confirmation.
Lagos is a special case and this bustling city often presents a scary prospect whenever there’s an epidemic in Nigeria. About 750,000 people pour into Lagos annually in search of a better life and economic opportunities. Only 20 percent of this number leave the city.
Lagos is chaotic at the best and worst of times. Its streets and roads are often milling with persons, its shops and arcades are spilling over, its markets are the busiest in the country and everywhere you turn in Lagos, there are millions of people as far as the eyes can see--each viciously rubbing themselves against the next person.
If a contagious ailment like monkeypox finds its way into Lagos, it will be a while before it finds its way out, given the massive population of the city.
The Lagos State government is currently on red alert and Commissioner for Health Idris is yet to confirm that there are monkeypox cases in Lagos. A text message sent to Idris for a confirmation while working on this piece, hadn’t yet been replied. Calls placed to Idris’ mobile were also not replied.
Pulse also reached out to Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Steve Ayorinde. But even he was in no mood to answer calls on a Friday.
In any case, it will be pretty horrible for Nigeria if monkeypox finds its way into Lagos. You don’t want a contagious ailment gaining a foothold in the 5th biggest economy in Africa and Nigeria's biggest contributor to GDP figures.
This is hoping that State and federal governments do all they can to stop the spread of this disease across the country.