An unusual monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria started in 2017 after the country hadn’t see a human case in40 years and is ongoing till this day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t discussed (or even referenced) in the mainstream media until now, 2022, when the outbreak spilled over into the wealthy countries. While conspiracy theories, anxiety-inducing headlines and panic run wild in the US, if we only paid attention to what was brewing in Nigeria in 2017, we might be ahead of the game. Ahead of the game, meaning have enough vaccines to go around, mobilize potential antivirals, set up surveillance, and make sure testing was widely available. We could have even sent some vaccines to Nigeria to help them control their outbreak. (I’m mostly referring to the vaccines that are approved for Smallpox but also provide coverage for Monkeypox. While we stopped using/recommending the smallpox vaccine when the disease was eradicated, we still maintained stockpiles of the vaccine.)
I didn’t know about the monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria, either, nor that it was considered an unusual presentation. I’m as bad as everyone else. But it would be cool if mainstream science writers covered outbreaks in other countries more diligently. Maybe like an “outbreaks to watch” section. But they’ll have to dress it up with “porn glitter” to get people interested in it. Afterall, we are as connected as we can be when it comes to international trade and travel, so what happens outbreak-wise in one corner of the world is more than likely to impact the rest. While we should want to help other countries when they experience outbreaks and need aid for altruistic reasons, we should also want to help them and be aware of what’s happening for selfish reasons. Yes, I wrote selfish, because I’ve been around long enough to know what motivates the human species.
Anyhow, I wanted to discuss what happened in Nigeria in 2017, so I reached out to Dr. Dimie Ogoina and invited him on the Causes or Cures podcast. Dr. Ogoina is an infectious disease specialist and president of the Nigerian Infectious Disease Society whose hospital saw the first (index) case of human monkeypox in 2017. He has published several papers on this topic which can be found here.
In this episode, he will describe the beginning of the monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria in 2017, symptoms, thoughts on transmission and things that struck him as unusual. He will talk about how Nigeria tried to warn the rest of the world that they were seeing something unusual. He will discuss similarities between what he observed (and treated) in Nigeria to what many countries around the world are now experiencing. He will also discuss the rate of mutations in this particular monkeypox virus, possible animal reservoirs, the link to the smallpox virus and what we can do better going forward as a global health community when it comes to addressing outbreaks.
You can listen to the episode on the monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria here.
As always, thanks for your support with this little podcast project of mine. I am doing my best to post new episodes, but as it is an unpaid gig for me and definitely more of a passion project, my “real work” has to take priority. I guess I could have my assistant, Barnaby, record some of the intros and do some of the editing, but he’s a dog, and not sure how many of you speak dog. I’m quite fluent, but not everyone has that skill. ;)
Please feel free to check out some of the other episodes if they strike your fancy, including these below: