Outbreak of human monkeypox in Nigeria in 2017–18: a clinical and epidemiological report

CDC Monkeypox Outbreak Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In September, 2017, human monkeypox re-emerged in Nigeria, 39 years after the last reported case. We aimed to describe the clinical and epidemiological features of the 2017–18 human monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria. Methods: We reviewed the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of cases of human monkeypox that occurred between Sept 22, 2017, and Sept 16, 2018. Data were collected with a standardised case investigation form, with a case definition of human monkeypox that was based on previously established guidelines. Diagnosis was confirmed by viral identification with real-time PCR and by detection of positive anti-orthopoxvirus IgM antibodies. Whole-genome sequencing was done for seven cases. Haplotype analysis results, genetic distance data, and epidemiological data were used to infer a likely series of events for potential human-to-human transmission of the west African clade of monkeypox virus. Findings: 122 confirmed or probable cases of human monkeypox were recorded in 17 states, including seven deaths (case fatality rate 6%). People infected with monkeypox virus were aged between 2 days and 50 years (median 29 years [IQR 14]), and 84 (69%) were male. All 122 patients had vesiculopustular rash, and fever, pruritus, headache, and lymphadenopathy were also common. The rash affected all parts of the body, with the face being most affected. The distribution of cases and contacts suggested both primary zoonotic and secondary human-to-human transmission. Two cases of health-care-associated infection were recorded. Genomic analysis suggested multiple introductions of the virus and a single introduction along with human-to-human transmission in a prison facility. Interpretation: This study describes the largest documented human outbreak of the west African clade of the monkeypox virus. Our results suggest endemicity of monkeypox virus in Nigeria, with some evidence of human-to-human transmission. Further studies are necessary to explore animal reservoirs and risk factors for transmission of the virus in Nigeria. Funding: None.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)872-879
Number of pages8
JournalThe Lancet Infectious Diseases
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the support of the Federal and State Ministries of Health in Nigeria; the Pox Virus Team at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; WHO; the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control Monkeypox Technical Working Group members; the epidemiology teams of Nigerian state ministries of health; the German Center for Infection Research, which provided emergency flexible funds to allow ad-hoc roll out of the Surveillance Outbreak Reponse Management and Analysis System for suporting the response to this outbreak (fund number TTU 01.920); and the patients and their families involved in this research, whose cooperation was core to the success of this work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 World Health Organization. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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