ON ALERT: Health authorities monitoring “very closely” for Monkeypox

ON ALERT: Health authorities monitoring “very closely” for Monkeypox

WHO says cases identified mainly, but not exclusively, in MSMs

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Health officials in The Bahamas are closely monitoring for Monkeypox, a virus that is not usually detected outside of Africa, but has been confirmed in Europe, the Americas, Australia, and 13 other countries outside the Mother Land.

The virus is most common in remote areas of Central and Western Africa.

But over 100 cases have been detected, including three cases in the United States, The Bahamas’ neighbor to the west.

It causes rash, unsightly sores, and fever, but has a relatively low chance of becoming fatal.

Cases of the virus are expected to rise in other jurisdictions due to human-to-human transmissions, but international health agencies have said the epidemic is a “containable situation”.

Director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme Dr Nikkiah Forbes

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme Dr Nikkiah Forbes said: “It’s being monitored so that that outbreak or cluster of cases that’s being described that started in May 20, 22 in Europe and in some cases in North America is being monitored very, very carefully to determine what is the mode of spread.

“So what you need to know is monkeypox is an infectious disease that is transmitted usually from animals to humans.

“But persons can become infected when they come into contact with another human or materials contaminated with the virus, say that person has monkeypox.

“And so, it causes some symptoms like skin rash, fever, headache, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion.

Those symptoms can persist for two weeks to four weeks.

“In terms of the death or mortality in previous studies in Africa, 10 percent of people would have succumbed from this in the second week of their infection,” Forbes said.

“But in previous outbreaks in the United States there, there were no deaths and I don’t think there have been any deaths reported thus far.

“So, this new cluster in 2022. It’s being studied in terms of the spread and there are about three cases in the US, so we’re monitoring it very, very carefully and will continue to monitor it right now.”

Cases of monkeypox in non-endemic countries reported to WHO between 13 to 21 May 2022 as at 13:00

In a statement on Saturday, the World Health Organization said the situation was evolving and it expected there will be more cases of monkeypox identified as surveillance expands in non-endemic countries.

“Immediate actions focus on informing those who may be most at risk for monkeypox infection with accurate information, in order to stop further spread,” the WHO said.

“Current available evidence suggests that those who are most at risk are those who have had close physical contact with someone with monkeypox, while they are symptomatic.

“WHO is also working to provide guidance to protect frontline health care providers and other health workers who may be at risk such as cleaners.”

WHO said reported cases of monkeypox thus far have “no established travel links to an endemic area” and cases have mainly, but not exclusively, been identified amongst men who have sex with men seeking care in primary care and sexual health clinics.

WHO is expected to provide more technical recommendations in the coming days.

Other countries that have confirmed cases include Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.

Last Friday, Belgium became the first country to introduce mandatory monkeypox quarantine as global cases rise.

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.