On the alert for monkeypox among tourists

HEALTH authorities are monitoring tourists for cases of monkeypox, following a report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that cases of the disease have emerged in several countries.

Monkeypox is a viral disease that occurs mostly in central and western Africa. It is called monkeypox because it was first identified in laboratory monkeys in 1958.

Monkeypox cases in humans have occurred outside of Africa linked to international travel or imported animals, including in the United States, Israel, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

WHO reported on Saturday that since May 13, cases of monkeypox had been reported by 12 member states.

Director-general of the Department of Communicable Disease Control of Laos’ Ministry of Health, Dr Rattanaxay Phetsouvanh, said health workers would be screening visitors and asking them about their travel history.

People who have spent time in at-risk areas will not be allowed to enter Laos.

“People who develop monkeypox typically have a fever and a mass of watery blisters on their skin,” he said.

Cases of monkeypox in non- endemic countries reported to WHO between May 13 and 21 have occurred in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States.

Epidemiological investigations are ongoing, although reported cases thus far have no established travel links to endemic areas, according to WHO.

Based on currently available information, cases have mainly but not exclusively been identified in men who have sex with men seeking care in primary care and sexual health clinics.

The situation is evolving and WHO expects there will be more cases of monkeypox identified as surveillance expands in non- endemic countries.

Immediate actions focus on informing those who may be most at risk for infection with accurate information, in order to stop further spread.

Current available evidence suggests that people who are most at risk are those who have had close physical contact with someone with monkeypox, while they are symptomatic. — Vientiane Times/ANN

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