MoH prepares to stop Monkeypox and deal with outbreaks

There has been more than 1,000 confirmed and suspected cases of Monkeypox in 29 non-endemic countries as of 6 June, 2022, reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stepped up its Monkeypox guidance, urging people to take extra precautions as global cases increase. CDC ramped up its alert to a level 2 on Monday, encouraging people to practice enhanced precautions to stem the outbreak. The highest level alert is level 3 which would caution against non-essential travel.

The U.K has recorded the most cases by far, with 302 suspected and confirmed infections. It is followed by Spain with 198, Portugal with 153 and Canada with 80 Monkeypox cases.

WHO stated the Monkeypox is a concern as it is spreading in the countries where it has not been seen before. So far, there has been more than 1,400 suspected cases of Monkeypox in Africa, and 66 deaths. 

Officiating Director of the Department of Public Health (DPH) under Ministry of Health (MoH), Rixin Jamtsho, said recognizing the significance in prevention and control plans, MoH informed all health centers in the country and allied health agencies to implement measures immediately, such as surveillance of people coming from countries that have reported Monkeypox.

Other measures are development of diagnostic capacity at RCDC. The preparedness and response plan have been developed and circulated to all the health centers, the ministry is also monitoring Monkeypox outbreak situations in all the WHO regions, the training of the health workers on clinical, diagnostics and case management already started and guidelines have been issued. The health declaration form has been newly developed for implementation for those entering Bhutan by flight and ground crossing, Rixin Jamtsho added.

Recognizing the importance of vigilance and preparedness for the Monkeypox outbreak in the country, the health ministry has developed management guideline with immediate effect, “Guideline for Management of Monkeypox in Bhutan, Version 1”, adopted in June 2022, said Rixin Jamtsho.

In case of any Monkeypox outbreak in the country, DPH has apprised all the health staff to plan and create self-learning platform with immediate effect. Creating general introduction to Monkeypox and responsibilities of intendants for prevention and control of Monkeypox, raising awareness, informing readiness efforts, and providing access to technical guidance for immediate actions are recommended. 

MoH has initiated surveillance on Monkeypox to rapidly identify cases and clusters in order to curtail further transmission and provide optimal clinical care, isolate cases to prevent further transmission, identify and manage contacts, and to tailor effective control and prevention measures. It also includes informing those who may be at risk for Monkeypox infection with accurate information and protecting frontline health workers.

Rixin Jamtsho said currently there is no specific treatment approved for Monkeypox viral infection. However, antivirals developed for use in patients with smallpox may prove beneficial. But there are currently no licensed treatments for Monkeypox.

Monkeypox is a disease caused by virus first found in monkeys, thus named Monkeypox. It is not a new disease and it is closely related to smallpox, although less severe. Monkeypox can spread from infected animals to humans. It can also spread between people through close contact with someone who has symptoms or with contaminated materials.

The symptoms of Monkeypox are fever, rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other part of the body. Symptoms usually begin 7 to 14 days after the infection, but it could be anywhere between 5 to 21 days. The illness typically last for 2 to 4 weeks.

In most cases symptoms go away within a few weeks, but in some, they can lead to medical complication and death. Newborns, children and people with underlying immune deficiencies may be at risk of more serious symptoms and death from Monkeypox. Complications from severe cases of Monkeypox include skin infections, pneumonia, confusion and eye infection which can lead to a loss of vision.

Individuals can stay home and talk to a health care worker if they have symptoms. Avoid close contact with anyone who has symptoms and with any contaminated materials. Wash hands with soap and water and clean frequently touched objects and surfaces. Wear face mask if you are in close contact with someone with symptoms and avoid animals that could harbor the virus.

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