The sound of another infectious virus, not even past the COVID-19 pandemic, coming up on the news may be alarming and rather distressing for most, if not for everyone.
In a virtual forum on June 17, Medical Officer IV and head of the Infectious Disease Unit of the Department of Health (DOH) Center for Health Development-Region 1 Dr. Rheuel Bobis discussed the 2022 monkeypox virus to the Barangay Health Workers (BHW) in Ilocos Sur as well as the information officers of local government units and national government agencies.
What is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease, like COVID-19, that affects both animals and humans.
The causative agent is the monkeypox virus. It is usually seen on rodents and non-human primates, but their natural reservoir is unknown.
Close physical contact with the infected person and eating uncooked meat or other animal products of infected animals are risk factors of monkeypox.
Dr. Bobis explained that young children and immunocompromised individuals are more likely to have severe presentation, a notable difference from the COVID-19 virus that shows severe symptoms on elderlies.
There are two types of transmission according to Dr. Bobis—direct and indirect.
Direct transmission pertains to animal to human transmission. It happens when one gets in contact with blood, tissue, lesion, or excretion of infected animals through bites or scratches.
Another is human to human transmission that occurs through direct contact with lesions, secretions, respiratory droplets (usually face-to-face contact needed), or sexual contact.
Meanwhile, indirect transmission happens when one gets in contact with lesion materials, for which Dr. Bobis cited, the beddings, linens, contaminated clothes, among others that were used by someone who is infected.
Dr. Bobis also mentioned that the prevalence of asymptomatic transmission is currently unknown.
He said points of entry are broken skin (even if invisible), respiratory tract, and mucous membrane (eyes, nose, mouth).
“Meron din pong tinatawag na congenital monkeypox kung saan kapag ang nanay po ay may monkeypox maaari niya pong mahawaan ‘yong kaniyang anak,” he said.
Signs and Symptoms
Fever, headache, myalgia (muscle pain), back pain, asthenia (physical weakness/lack of energy), and lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph nodes) are signs and symptoms of monkeypox.
He further pointed out the difference between monkeypox and chickenpox stating that the rash distribution of the former is centrifugal or more abundant on the face, hands and feet. On the other hand chickenpox’s rash distribution is centripetal or more abundant on the trunk than on the face.
The signs and symptoms may be observed with the invasion/prodromal period of zero to five days, whereas the skin eruption period is one to three days after the onset of fever.
Dr. Bobis emphasized that a person is contagious from onset of enanthem (rash) through scab stage, however they are no longer contagious when scabs fall off.
The chief of the Infectious Disease Unit of the DOH-CHD1 named the Tecovirimat, Brincidofovir, Cidofovir, and Vaccinia Immune Globulin as treatments for monkeypox, but stated that these have no local Certificate of Product Registration from the Food and Drug Administration.
He also mentioned an internationally available vaccine for the monkeypox, which is the replication-deficient attenuated live virus vaccine (Ankara strain).
He discussed the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) measures: avoid contact with animals that could harbor the virus, isolate infected patients from others and materials that have been in contact with sick animals, contact tracing and testing, isolate strategy and treatment or supportive management to address monkeypox.
Dr. Bobis shared that there are no cases of monkeypox in the country yet based on the latest monitoring of DOH.
He acknowledged the possibility of it reaching our borders hence the very reason they are strengthening the surveillance system.
He also mentioned that according to the World Health Organization, the chance of the monkeypox becoming a wide-scale epidemic is slim as the transmission is through direct contact.
“In case you have the symptoms, immediately isolate and stay in a room or area in the house where there are no other individuals,” Dr. Bobis stated.
Furthermore, he reminded the public to call healthcare workers of their healthcare facility to ask the next steps after isolating themselves in order to limit exposure of other people and to prevent transmission. (JCR/AMB/ATV, PIA Ilocos Sur)