VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): The Ministry of Health has confirmed the first case of monkeypox in Laos and is encouraging health officials throughout the country to be on the alert for more cases of the virus.
A man contracted monkeypox after travelling from a neighbouring country and is currently under observation at a Vientiane hospital.
Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Most people fully recover, but some get very sick.
The virus can be transmitted to humans through physical contact with someone who is infectious, with contaminated materials, or with infected animals.
It is a rare disease and was first discovered in 1958 when outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in monkeys kept for research.
The health ministry said more cases could be detected in Laos because of the high number of people travelling to other countries, including those where cases of the virus have been reported.
To prevent an outbreak of monkeypox, the ministry has advised health departments in provinces that border on neighbouring countries to take steps to prevent and respond to the disease.
The ministry has advised staff at government and private hospitals and clinics to test for monkeypox in anyone presenting with fever and an unexplained acute rash. If the virus is suspected, a swab taken from a skin lesion must be sent to the National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology for analysis.
The ministry has also recommended that provincial health departments set up laboratory facilities to test for monkeypox. In addition, they should make preparations for the treatment of patients and inform the public about ways to avoid infection, especially in provinces with international borders.
Monkeypox can affect anyone in close skin-to-skin contact, including sex with someone who has monkeypox, or with contaminated objects like linen, clothes or utensils that have been used by an infected person.
The symptoms of monkeypox include an unexplained acute rash and back pain, swollen lymph nodes, acute onset of fever over 38.5 deg C, headaches, muscle pain and body aches, and low energy.
In some people, infection can lead to complications and it’s important to seek prompt medical advice.
If you think you may have monkeypox, seek medical advice and isolate yourself from others until you are attended to by a clinician and tested for the virus.
Get tested at a designated hospital or call hotline number 165 or 166 for medical advice. Calls are free of charge.
Outbreaks of monkeypox are currently taking place in many countries that don’t normally have cases.