New centre to monitor monkeypox

New centre to monitor monkeypox

Over 100 infections found in 12 nations

Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control. (DDC photo)
Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control. (DDC photo)

The Public Health Ministry has set up an emergency operations centre to monitor the spread of the monkeypox virus, which has caused over 100 confirmed cases in at least 12 countries to date.

Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), said the centre will keep a close watch on the progress of the outbreak, despite the fact the virus has yet to be detected in Thailand.

He said vigilance is needed as the country has re-opened to foreign visitors, who may spread the virus while travelling -- especially those coming from areas where the disease is endemic, such as Central and West Africa.

Infections have been confirmed in nine European countries -- Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom -- as well as the United States, Canada and Australia.

Dr Opas said that from May 1-22, there were 13,142 arrivals from the UK, 1,352 from Spain and 268 from Portugal.

The World Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency meeting last Friday to discuss the outbreak after more than 100 cases were detected in Europe.

Monkeypox causes symptoms which are similar to smallpox -- which was eradicated in 1980 -- although they are often less severe and not as contagious.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Sunday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed the Public Health Ministry to follow the development of the monkeypox outbreak and educate the people about the disease to prevent panic.

According to the DDC, monkeypox is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, though human-to-human transmission is limited.

Animal hosts include a range of rodents and non-human primates.

The disease can be transmitted from one person to another by close contact with body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials, the DDC said, adding that scientists believe it is unlikely that the monkeypox will cause a pandemic like the coronavirus.

Dr Mingkwan Wichaidit, director of the Institute of Dermatology of the Department of Medical Services, said monkeypox symptoms can include fever, body ache, headache, fatigue, rash and swollen lymph nodes, adding the symptoms tend to last from two to four weeks.

The disease's fatality rate is about 10%, according to medical research, with deaths mostly caused by complications, such as lung inflammation, dehydration and brain inflammation, Dr Mingkwan said.

Jynneos vaccine has been approved for monkeypox, she added.

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