Three suspected monkeypox cases in fact herpes, says DDC

Three suspected monkeypox cases in fact herpes, says DDC

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

The Department of Disease Control (DDC) has confirmed that three suspected cases of monkeypox were in fact herpes.

Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the DDC, on Sunday said that lab results from the Medical Sciences Department and the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases Health Science Centre under Chulalongkorn University confirmed the cases were not monkeypox.

As of yet no monkeypox infection has been found in the country.

The three people suspected of having contracted monkeypox are being treated at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute. The DDC's Epidemiology Division will talk to the media later today.

Dr Opas said anyone with a condition similar to monkeypox infection will be examined for the disease. Health control measures at airports likewise will include enhanced screening procedures.

"However, initial information shows that monkeypox infection does not spread as easily as Covid-19. Transmission requires close interaction with a symptomatic individual," Dr Opas said.

Meanwhile, Dr Suprakit Jiraratwattana of the Medical Services Department's Dermatology Institute said monkeypox can be transmitted by the aerosol route within one metre. Other infection possibilities include eating undercooked infected meat or direct contact with infected meat, especially by those who prepare raw, wild meat.

Monkeypox infection is less severe than smallpox, which had a fatality rate of about 30% while the fatality rate for monkeypox is 3%-6% in countries with adequate healthcare systems. The ratio may rise to 6%-10% in less developed countries, he said. Even before the most recent global outbreak, monkeypox has never been detected in Thailand.

Normally monkeypox patients can recover within 2-4 weeks if they do not develop intercurrent diseases such as encephalitis, pneumonitis and septicaemia, he said.

Dr Suprakit said studies of monkeypox, herpes, chickenpox and shingles show that the diseases originate from the same virus family.

Patients with herpes will experience blisters on their lips, genital organ and coccyx. After recovery, the virus remains and will eventually re-emerge.

For both monkeypox and chickenpox, the condition begins with a fever. A rash and bumps will later occur throughout the body of chickenpox patients, while monkeypox produces the same condition but is limited to certain areas.

Chickenpox patients may experience both blisters and pustules at the same time, whereas monkeypox will have one or the other.

The clinical sign differentiating monkeypox from chickenpox is enlarged lymph nodes, he said. Incubation duration is about 21 days.

''Despite the full-scale reopening of the country, protective measures including social distancing, wearing face mask and screening are still required,'' he said.

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