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Friday, August 5, 2022

Monkeypox is here!

THE PHILIPPINES has recorded its first case of the highly contagious Monkeypox disease after a 31-year old returning Filipino overseas worker tested positive for the virus.

This was confirmed by the Department of Health (DOH), but it did not release the name of the Filipino who arrived home on July 19. It was unclear why the DOH only announced this just recently.

Monkeypox is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus. The virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.

“The Department of Health has detected the first confirmed case of Monkeypox in the country. The case is a 31-year-old Filipino national who arrived from abroad last July 19. The case had prior travel to countries with documented Monkeypox cases,” the DOH said.

“The case was tested and confirmed positive for Monkeypox via Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction or RT-PCR, done at the DOH Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on July 28. The case has been discharged well, and is undergoing strict isolation and monitoring at home,” it added.

The DOH said it has completed case investigation and identification of at least 10 people who had contacts with the Filipino - three of them are from the same household. “All have been advised to undergo quarantine and are being monitored by the Department of Health. The DOH assures everyone that our public health surveillance systems are able to detect and confirm Monkeypox cases,” it said.

The DOH said the Monkeypox disease is now a “public health emergency of international concern,” and everyone can help prevent the spread of the virus by minimizing close sexual contact with suspected cases, especially those with rashes or open wounds.

“The DOH wishes to emphasize that anyone may get Monkeypox. If you have a travel history to countries with Monkeypox, and then have symptoms like fever, lymphadenopathy and rashes, seek immediate medical attention. This will help hasten recovery,” it said.

Thailand, Singapore too

Thailand also has confirmed its first case of Monkeypox after a 27-year old Nigerian man was tested positive for the highly infectious disease, but authorities said the patient has escaped from hospital.

Police are now searching for the man and is believed to be somewhere in Phuket. At least 154 people had contact with the Nigerian and were all traced and tested and none were found to be infected with the monkeypox virus, according to Bangkok Post.

The newspaper also quoted Dr Kusak Kukiartkul, chief of the Phuket public health office, as saying the monkeypox detected in the patient was the African variant. He said the man had sought treatment at a private hospital as an outpatient. He was not admitted as his condition was not severe.

The Nigerian man had a fever, coughing, sore throat and runny nose, a rash and lesions in his genital area that spread to other parts of his body and face, according to reports, adding the police, immigration and disease control officials have been assigned to find him.

Meanwhile, hospitals, sexual disease clinics and international airports have been alerted to strengthen screening procedures for monkeypox. Department of Disease Control chief Opas Karnkawinpong said that monkeypox had been placed on the list of communicable diseases under surveillance.

Provincial communicable disease committees, including Bangkok, need to put in place a disease control plan, as required by the Communicable Diseases Act. All detected cases must be directly reported to the authorities.

He said the Public Health Ministry had ordered the implementation of a surveillance and screening system for people suspected of having the disease. The symptoms included high fever, headache, sore throat, and blisters on the hands, feet and genitals.

All hospitals, sexual disease clinics and disease control officials at international airports must have a surveillance and screening system to detect the disease.

Singapore in June also confirmed one case of monkeypox after a 42-year old British national who works as a flight attendant, is tested positive for the virus, according to a report by the Channel News Asia.

The Ministry of Health said the man was in Singapore between June 15 and June 17, and again on Jun 19 as he flew in and out of the country.

The case had the onset of headache on June 14 and fever on June 16. These symptoms subsequently resolved, and he then developed skin rashes three days later. The man then sought medical attention online on the night of June 19, and was conveyed to NCID on June 20 for further assessment.

The World Health Organization has reported that monkeypox is now present in over two dozen countries, and warned the public that there will be more cases as the virus continues to spread.

Among the countries with reported monkeypox cases include Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Congo, French Guiana, United States, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Finland France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Australia.  (Mindanao Examiner)