Per World Health Organization (WHO) Communications Officer Laura Keenan, an isolated case of monkeypox was confirmed in Pujehun district, Sierra Leone, but not related to any of the 17 possibly-related cases or 9 deaths recently reported in Liberia.
The patient, a 35-year old male, was admitted to Pujehun District Government Hospital on March 25, never quarantined and discharged from the hospital on Saturday afternoon. Biological samples were shipped to Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo for laboratory testing and confirmed positive for the monkeypox virus on April 17.
After being treated by “barrier nursing,” he is being recognized as the country’s third known occurrence of the disease since 1970.
The goal of barrier nursing, a set of stringent infection control techniques, is to defend medical workers prevent transmission of the infection via patient, particularly those with a highly infectious disease, like monkeypox. Each “barrier” is a worn article – gowns, overshoes, caps, gloves, and masks – worn by anyone near or in contact with the infected patient. Each barrier is discarded and safely disposed of immediately after it is used.
In the patient’s community, no new cases have been identified. Thirteen people in close contact with the patient are being monitored, but none have developed any feverish illness and/or skin lesions since their latest exposure. All contacts will continue to be monitored for an additional 17 days, which is twice the usual incubation period for this particular virus.
“Contacts of the patient are not quarantined but are being monitored. The contacts are doing fine,” said Harold Thomas, Communications Officer for National Emergency Centre.”
Keenan also confirmed that all 13 contacts are currently in the second phase of monitoring and it’s very unlikely that any of them will come down with the disease.
“We have our epidemiologist, field coordinators and others already in Pujehun as part of our District presence,” Keenan continued.
Preventive measures for those in contact with an infected person include avoiding bush meat – especially rodents – and practicing thorough bathing with both soap and clean water.
Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. The disease was first identified in laboratory monkeys, hence its name, but seemingly infects rodents more often than primates in its natural state.
The disease is indigenous to Central and West Africa.