The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Monkeypox in Nigeria

Watch – Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease that occurs throughout remote parts of Central and West Africa, often near tropical rain forests. It spreads through contact with the monkeypox virus from an animal or human (alive or dead) or with materials contaminated with the virus. Fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and exhaustion are followed by a rash. Patients are usually ill for 2–4 weeks. Monkeypox is fatal in as many as 10% of people who get it.

Key Points

  • There is an ongoing outbreak of monkeypox in Nigeria.
  • Monkeypox spreads to humans through contact with people or animals (alive or dead) infected with monkeypox virus. The virus can also spread through droplets when people infected with the virus cough, sneeze, or talk. Material contaminated by the virus is another potential source of infection.
  • Travelers to Nigeria should protect themselves from monkeypox by washing hands often with soap and water, and avoiding contact with animals or people that may be sick.

What is the current situation?

Since September 2017, an outbreak of monkeypox has been ongoing in Nigeria. As of April 2019, health officials have reported more than 300 cases of monkeypox, including multiple deaths. In late 2018, three travelers infected with monkeypox in Nigeria returned home (two to the United Kingdom and one to Israel). There was also a reported secondary case of the disease in a health care worker in the United Kingdom. Most recently, in May 2019, the Singapore Ministry of Health reported a fourth exported case of the disease in a traveler who arrived from Nigeria. These are the first cases of monkeypox reported outside Africa since 2003.

What can travelers do to protect themselves?

Because monkeypox spreads through contact with animals or humans infected with the virus, CDC advises travelers to Nigeria to take the following steps to prevent illness:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
  • Avoid close contact with ill people.
  • Avoid contact with wild animals or wild animal products or meat (such as bushmeat) that could harbor the virus (including sick or dead animals found in areas where monkeypox occurs).
  • Avoid contact with any materials, such as bedding, that have been in contact with a sick person or animal.

If you feel sick and think you may have monkeypox:

  • Seek medical care right away.
    • Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, tell the doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms. 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

Clinician Information

To prevent monkeypox transmission in health care settings, apply a combination of standard, contact, and droplet infection control precautions when a patient with an appropriate travel history presents with fever and vesicular/pustular rash. CDC also recommends implementing airborne precautions and notifying infection control personnel immediately.