MINISTER of Health Sylvia Masebo says a team of infectious diseases specialists is investigating a suspected case of monkeypox in a 23-year-old female who had travelled to the USA two weeks ago.
And Masebo says a total of 14 confirmed measles and two rubella cases have been reported in Mushindano district of North-Western Province.
During a media briefing, Monday, Masebo said the 23-year-old gave a history of her having eaten pork, which she had never eaten before, four days prior to her return flight.
She explained that while on the plane back to Zambia, the woman developed rash on her forehead which later spread to her trunk and entire body.
“On the local front, we have heightened our surveillance, given that cases of the disease are being reported from countries where it is not typically found. We have acquired testing reagents and these are expected in country in the next few days. Currently, suspect samples are being analysed from patients presenting with medical history and symptoms suggestive of what is now known about this disease. We have been investigating a suspected case of monkey pox in a 23-year-old female who travelled to the USA two weeks ago. She is reported to have experienced headache and an on-off fever five days ago. She gave a history of her having eaten pork, which she had never eaten before, four days prior to her return flight. While on the plane back to Zambia, she developed rash on her forehead which later spread to her trunk and entire body,” Masebo said.
“Currently the patient is in isolation and our team of infectious diseases specialists is carrying out further investigations. I wish to remind you that the symptoms of monkey pox include fever, intense headache, swelling of the lymph nodes, back pain, muscle ache and lack of energy. There could be skin rashes that begin on the face and spread to other parts of the body and progress to pustules and crusts.”
Masebo said the World Health Organisation (WHO) would meet this Thursday to assess whether the Monkeypox outbreak also constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.
“COVID-19 is not the only public health threat our country is facing. As you are aware, increasing numbers of cases of Monkeypox have been reported. According to the World Health Organisation, there have now been 1,900 confirmed cases in 39 countries around the globe, eight of which are African countries. Specifically confirmed cases have been reported from Nigeria (36), Democratic Republic of Congo (10), Central African Republic (8), Ghana (5), Benin (3), Cameroon (3), Republic of the Congo (2), and Morocco (1). Of these, Ghana and Morocco have not previously recorded Monkey pox cases. Further, Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda have reported suspected cases – none of these countries has previously had cases of monkey pox,” she said.
“The WHO will meet this week Thursday 23rd June, to assess whether this outbreak also constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. As a country we are closely monitoring the developments around the world. I am happy to report that our partners, including the CDC, WHO and Africa CDC, are already ramping up support to countries to increase testing. One of the newer smallpox vaccines has been approved for the prevention of monkey pox, and prior smallpox vaccination may also reduce the effect of the disease. However, mass vaccination has not currently been recommended. Given the lessons learnt from the vaccine hoarding experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is gratifying to note that early efforts are already being made to ensure that, even with the currently limited global stocks, there are considerations for fair access to both vaccines and treatment.”
And Masebo said a total of 14 confirmed measles and two rubella cases had been reported in Mushindano district of North-Western Province.
“Our response efforts toward the measles outbreak in Mushindano district in North-western province remain in effect, with increased testing and vaccination being carried out. To date, a total of 14 confirmed measles and 2 rubella cases have been reported in the district. The vaccination campaign has now reached an estimated 92% of the targeted 16,010 targeted children aged between 6 months and 15 years. We must protect our children from vaccine preventable diseases. All parents are encouraged to get their children vaccinated at a health centre close to the community,” she said.
“We have had sporadic cases of suspected cholera over the last few weeks. On an encouraging note, the most recent suspected case, which was recorded in the past week, tested negative. Cumulatively, we have recorded 17 confirmed cholera cases since the first few cases were confirmed in Lusaka and Nsama districts back in April of this year. There have been no deaths recorded. There are currently no cases in isolation. Today marks day 4 of zero reporting. As per the guidelines, once two consecutive weeks have elapsed since the last recorded case, we will confidently declare the outbreak over.”
Meanwhile, Masebo said her ministry would conduct Child Health Week activities up to June 25.
“In our continued efforts to ensure the continuity of essential health services amidst the multiple health threats, I wish to inform the members of the public that starting today, 20th June, 2022 to 25th June, 2022, the Ministry of Health will conduct Child Health Week activities. The aim of this important exercise is to focus on, and enhance, under 5 child health, survival and development, through strengthening and scaling up the provision of high impact health promotive and preventive interventions. The Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV) vaccine will also be given to eligible girls during this period. This Child Health Week has been combined with the Safe Motherhood week whose theme hinges around encouraging every pregnant woman to start attending antenatal clinic as soon as they know they are pregnant, and to deliver at a health facility, assisted by a skilled birth attendant,” said Masebo.