One of the patients of the viral disease, monkeypox, at the quarantine centre in Bayelsa State has committed suicide, the state government said on Monday.
The unnamed patient allegedly took his own life on Monday at an isolation centre at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri, in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state.
Addressing journalists in Yenagoa, the state capital, the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, stated that the deceased was among the 21 suspected victims of the virus that were being managed at the teaching hospital.
Etebu was joined at the conference by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the Chief Medical Director of the NDUTH, Prof. Dimie Ogoina, and other senior health officials.
He expressed regret that the patient took his own life despite the fact that he was speedily recovering from the disease, noting that the medical history of the deceased did not suggest any mental illness or depression.
While sympathising with the family, Etebu said that a committee had been set up to evaluate the past and recent clinical and social history of the deceased to determine if there was an undisclosed mental illness or personal family problem that could have instigated the suicide.
Etebu said laboratory test had confirmed that monkeypox was in the state.
He, however, assured the general public that the government was doing everything to contain the outbreak and ensure that all patients receive appropriate care and treatment.
Iworiso-Markson on his part urged residents to continue to use preventive measures, including avoiding eating bushmeat.
The Public Relations Officer, Bayelsa State Police Command, Mr. Asinim Butswat, confirmed the suicide, saying the matter had been reported to the police.
He, however, said the police were not suspecting any foul play, noting that there were no visible marks of violence other than the rope that the deceased tied around his own neck.
The index case of monkeypox had broken out in Agbura, a suburb of Yenagoa in Bayelsa State.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, at a press conference in Abuja said all the monkeypox test samples obtained from Lagos State tested negative.
He said only four cases of monkeypox had been confirmed in Nigeria.
Adewole said out of the 17 suspected cases reported in Bayelsa and 43 cases in other states, only three were positive while two were still being tested.
The minister said the tests suggested that the first case was transferred from an animal to a human being.
He added, “As of October 13, 2017, there were 17 suspected cases reported from Yenagoa LGA in Bayelsa State. We have received laboratory confirmation for monkeypox virus from three of these cases from the WHO Regional Laboratory in Dakar, Senegal. Samples from 12 other cases from Bayelsa were negative. We are still awaiting results of the other two samples.
“With these results, three suspected monkeypox cases in Yenagoa have been confirmed with laboratory evidence. The most likely source of infection is a primary zoonotic transmission, from an animal, with secondary person-to-person transmission.
“Since our initial announcement, a total of 43 other suspected cases have been reported from eight other states – Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ekiti, Lagos, Enugu, Nasarawa, Rivers and the FCT. Of these, four cases from Lagos have also been tested and confirmed to be negative for the monkeypox virus.
“We expect that many of these cases being reported from other states in Nigeria are not caused by the monkeypox virus, but we will continue to investigate all those cases that fit the case definition.”
Also speaking, Christian Happy, a professor of Molecular Biology and Genomics in the Department of Biological Sciences, and the Director, African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, Redeemer’s University, said the test samples were sent to Nigeria for double confirmation.
He said he was investigating the source of the virus and how it was evolving.
The Chief Executive Officer/ National Coordinator of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, identified the major symptoms as fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.
He said within three days, after the appearance of fever, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreads to other parts of the body.
Adewole had earlier urged the media to stop causing panic over the monkeypox disease, stressing that the disease is not deadly.
The minister said the fact that no one had died since the first case was reported over three weeks ago, showed that the disease was not as severe as it was being reported.