Monkeypox immunity tests to begin
Studies say smallpox jabs offer protection
The Department of Medical Science is seeking volunteers who received the smallpox vaccine when it was still being widely administered prior to 1980 to test whether they have been left with any residual immunity against monkeypox having successfully cultivated test strains of the new virus in their laboratories.
"It will be known in a week if there are enough volunteers," Dr Supakit Sirilak, chief of the Department of Medical Sciences, said on Monday.
Dr Supakit said the department had cultured enough monkeypox virus cells to begin clinical trials on three groups of 10 participants aged 40, 50 and 60 years old respectively.
"We will first see if any of our staff meet the criteria and test their immunity level against monkeypox.
"They would likely have received it before 1980, the year that nationwide smallpox jabs ended in Thailand. We would expect to have results within a week," he said.
Many international studies have recently reported that previous smallpox vaccination may protect up to 85% of those who received the jabs.
The government ended its national smallpox prevention policy in 1980 after the virus all but disappeared from the country.
"People aged 40 years and over would have been among the last group to receive a jab," Dr Supakit said.
According to the Ministry of Public Health, there have been four cases of monkeypox diagnosed on Thai soil, none suffering severe symptoms, compared with 30,000 confirmed worldwide infections and five deaths.
Among precautionary measures being advised by the ministry is for members of the public to refrain from having multiple sex partners as the disease is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.
Meanwhile, a Nigerian man who fled from Phuket to Phnom Penh after being infected with monkeypox will be charged with immigration offences in Cambodia and later be deported, according to the Khmer Times.
Keo Vannthan, a Cambodian Immigration Department spokesman, said the 27-year-old would likely serve a sentence and then be expelled from the country.
"He will face punishment for breaking immigration laws, as well as laws concerning infectious disease outbreaks," the Khmer Times on Monday quoted the spokesman as saying.
The man was declared fully recovered from the disease on Saturday and then quarantined for seven days at the immigration office.
The Nigerian had been living in Phuket as a visa overstayer. He fled Thailand to Cambodia in July after tests confirmed he had been infected with monkeypox. He illegally entered Cambodia in Banteay Meanchey province, which adjoins Sa Kaeo in Thailand.
The man was Thailand's first confirmed case.