Thailand has had 217 Monkeypox (Mpox) patients this year, over half of them diagnosed in Bangkok, according to the Department of Disease Control (DDC).
Dr Sopon Iamsirithaworn, deputy director-general of the DDC, said that the mpox cases from July 2022 -- April this year all involved foreigners. However, recent Mpox cases have been mainly among the Thai population.
He said that mpox does not require sexual contact to spread. Direct skin contact, especially on rashes or swollen lymph nodes can pass on the virus.
The number of mpox cases is rising and most cases are found within homosexual communities. Dr Sopon added that many who were infected with Mpox are also HIV-positive.
"Only 20 Mpox cases were found in Thailand from July last year to April this year. Then, in June this year, the number rose to 50 cases and over a hundred in July. The highest-risk group is people who have unprotected sex or intimate contact with strangers," he said.
Addressing the first Mpox death in Thailand, Dr Sopon said the patient had not been aware that he was HIV-positive and had never received treatment for the virus. The mpox later worsened his immunity and led to his death.
He said that people living with HIV who also use pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) do not risk developing underlying health conditions if they are infected.
Dr Sopon emphasised that most Mpox cases were in major and tourist cities where it is recommended people avoid high-risk sexual behaviour.
From Jan 1-Aug 15, Thailand has recorded 217 Mpox cases, 30 foreigners and 187 Thai nationals.
Thailand has seen Mpox cases in 19 provinces. Worst hit have been Bangkok with 134, Nonthaburi 14, and Chon Buri and Samut Prakan with 9 each.