A little boy was diagnosed with monkeypox five years ago, nobody cared

Five years ago, Dr. Dime Ogoina received perhaps the most important patient of his career: on September 22, 2017, an 11-year-old boy entered Ogoina’s clinic with strange rashes on his skin and in his mouth.

There were very large changes on his face and his whole body, which looked a bit like chicken pox, but it certainly wasn’t, because the boy had already suffered from it before – quotes the npr.org writing the specialist.

The first case of monkeypox

Given the size and location of the injuries, Ogoina speculated that the boy might have had an extremely rare disease at the time, namely monkeypox. At the time, however, Nigeria did not have the ability to test for the disease, so they were forced to send samples further to Senegal and the United States for diagnosis.

A few days later, the results confirmed Ogoina’s assumption: The boy had monkeypox.

He was the first case of monkeypox in Nigeria in 38 years. Over the next few months, Nigerian doctors noticed another twenty cases among those who visited the clinics. As recently revealed, this case was the first known monkeypox infection, not only in Nigeria, but in the entire world. The infection is currently spreading in 78 countries, including Hungary.

Since May, more than 20,000 cases of monkeypox have been detected in the world, according to the latest data, 42 of them are in Hungary, and there are already over 4,000 in the United States.

The virus started to spread

When Ogoina diagnosed the first case of monkeypox in 2017, he thought the virus might spread as it has in parts of Africa for more than fifty years: such outbreaks usually start when a person comes into contact with an infected animal, so scientists suspected that the boy might have been playing with monkeys.

A few weeks later, the specialist had serious concerns, as the epidemic began to spread not only in the immediate vicinity of the boy, but everywhere throughout the country. The virus spread faster and further than expected, infecting not only children but also men in their 20s and 30s.

These men, however, also did not fit the profile of typical monkeypox patients. They did not hunt or deal with animals, but most of them were middle-class people from modern, bustling urban life. It was later revealed that the young child did not get the virus from a monkey, but from a male relative. These rashes no longer appeared in the usual places, on the faces and limbs, but around the genitals, so the doctors decided to assess the sex life of the patients. It turned out that most of them had a high-risk sex life, because in addition to having several partners, many also slept with prostitutes.

The doctor warned me, but to no avail

In recent years, Ogoina has repeatedly tried to warn health officials and scientists that monkeypox has changed and is likely to be sexually transmitted, but they have ignored it.

Taken together, these results show that the world had nearly five years to eradicate monkeypox, and yet it did not.

However, international efforts to stop the epidemic in Nigeria have paled in comparison to attempts abroad.

For example, when doctors diagnosed the first cases in the United Kingdom and Spain in May, health officials immediately pushed for a monkeypox vaccine.

(Cover photo: A woman infected with monkeypox and her child await treatment in the quarantine area of ​​the Doctors Without Borders center in the Central African Republic. On October 18, 2018. Photo: Charles Bouessel / AFP)

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