NPR – Five years ago, Dr. Dimie Ogoina saw perhaps the most important patient of his career – a patient whose infection would eventually be linked to the largest monkeypox outbreak in history.
On Sept. 22, 2017, an 11-year-old boy came to Ogoina’s clinic with a strange rash on his skin and sores inside his mouth.
“He had very large lesions affecting his face and all over his body,” says Ogoina, an infectious disease specialist at the Niger Delta University in Nigeria.
The rash looked a bit like chickenpox. “But the boy already had chickenpox,” says Ogoina. So he knew that wasn’t the problem.
Given the size of the lesions and their location, Ogoina wondered if perhaps the boy had what was then an extremely rare disease: monkeypox. “The suspicion of monkeypox just came up,” he says.
“They had very extensive genital lesions. Very, very extensive.” – Dr. Dimie Ogoina
“At the time, Nigeria didn’t have the ability to test for the disease. “So we had to send our samples to Senegal and even to the U.S. to make a diagnosis,” he says. “We had to wait.”
Monkeypox outbreak in U.S. is bigger than the CDC reports. Testing is ‘abysmal’
A few days later, the results came back, and Ogoina was correct: The boy had monkeypox.
“He was the first case of monkeypox in Nigeria in 38 years,” Ogoina says. Over the next few months, he and his colleagues detected more than 20 additional cases at their clinic.
Now scientists, including Ogoina, are just starting to realize this little boy was another first, not just for Nigeria, but also for the entire world. He was the first known case of the international monkeypox outbreak, currently spreading in 78 countries.
Since May, the world has detected more than 20,000 monkeypox cases, including more than 4,000 cases in the U.S. Last weekend, the World Health Organization declared this outbreak a public health emergency … READ MORE.