The 2017 human monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria-Report of outbreak experience and response in the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Bayelsa State, Nigeria

PLoS One. 2019 Apr 17;14(4):e0214229. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0214229. eCollection 2019.


Background: In September 2017, Nigeria experienced a large outbreak of human monkeypox (HMPX). In this study, we report the outbreak experience and response in the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), Bayelsa state, where the index case and majority of suspected cases were reported.

Methods: In a cross-sectional study between September 25th and 31st December 2017, we reviewed the clinical and laboratory characteristics of all suspected and confirmed cases of HMPX seen at the NDUTH and appraised the plans, activities and challenges of the hospital in response to the outbreak based on documented observations of the hospital's infection control committee (IPC). Monkeypox cases were defined using the interim national guidelines as provided by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Results: Of 38 suspected cases of HMPX, 18(47.4%) were laboratory confirmed, 3(7.9%) were probable, while 17 (18.4%) did not fit the case definition for HMPX. Majority of the confirmed/probable cases were adults (80.9%) and males (80.9%). There was concomitant chicken pox, syphilis and HIV-1 infections in two confirmed cases and a case of nosocomial infection in one healthcare worker (HCW). The hospital established a make-shift isolation ward for case management, constituted a HMPX response team and provided IPC resources. At the outset, some HCWs were reluctant to participate in the outbreak and others avoided suspected patients. Some patients and their family members experienced stigma and discrimination and there were cases of refusal of isolation. Repeated trainings and collaborative efforts by all stakeholders addressed some of these challenges and eventually led to successful containment of the outbreak.

Conclusion: While the 2017 outbreak of human monkeypox in Nigeria was contained, our report reveals gaps in outbreak response that could serve as lessons to other hospitals to strengthen epidemic preparedness and response activities in the hospital setting.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Communications Media
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hospitals, Teaching*
  • Hospitals, University*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monkeypox / epidemiology*
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Research Report*

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.