HEALTH PROTOCOLS like mask wearing, handwashing, and physical distancing, which were put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, will also be effective in preventing the transmission of monkeypox, according to an infectious disease expert.
Though the Philippines has not seen any cases so far, it’s possible for the virus first detected in West and Central Africa to enter the country through incoming travelers, said Dr. Rontgene M. Solante, a disease expert on the government’s pandemic response panel, at a Philippine College of Physicians forum on Tuesday.
“Minimum health standards are then important to maintain because both droplets and close contact are potential modes of transmission,” he said.
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that most of this year’s cases of monkeypox are reported in non-endemic countries, with 65% of the 7,892 active cases from Jan. 1 to July 7, occurring in Europe.
Dr. Solante warned that even though the risk for the general population is considered low, children, elderly, pregnant women, and the immunocompromised are at high risk.
The common symptoms are rashes, lesions, fever, and lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes). The case fatality rate is 3% to 6%.
“There’s a vaccine and antiviral treatment being researched abroad, but data is still limited. The treatment so far is usually supportive, meaning bed rest, isolation,” he said.
The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine is working on monkeypox testing to prepare for a scenario in which the virus enters the Philippines.
WHO’s data on monkeypox also found that majority of the infected are men who have sex with men (MSM) — 78% of confirmed cases are males aged 18 to 44 years old, 98% of which identified as MSM and 41% of which are also positive for human immunodeficiency virus.
However, this doesn’t mean that monkeypox itself is a sexually transmitted disease, as it can also be contracted from droplets and close or direct contact, Dr. Solante noted.
“Public health measures should be in place to effectively prevent an outbreak,” he said. — Brontë H. Lacsamana