Health Ministry rubbishes rumours of monkeypox outbreak in Malaysia

A monkeypox patient in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during an outbreak in 1997. PHOTO: CDC/ BRIAN W.J. MAHY.

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has rubbished rumours that there is an outbreak of monkeypox in the country.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said there were no cases of monkeypox in Malaysia after one instance of the disease was reported in neighbouring Singapore on May 9.

"The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that the case involved a Nigerian citizen who was in Singapore on April 28 to attend a workshop. It is the first reported case in Asia," he said.

Dr Noor Hisham also said that the Singaporean Health Ministry had taken preventive measures to minimise the spread of the disease, including putting 23 people who were believed to have had close contact with the infected patient under quarantine and monitoring their condition.

"The Singapore Health Ministry reported no Malaysians had any contact with the monkeypox patient in Singapore," he said in a statement Wednesday (May 22).

Dr Noor Hisham was responding to rumours about the disease shared on social media and WhatsApp.

The fake news stated that the Health Ministry had held an emergency meeting about the disease and claimed that deaths had been recorded in Indonesia.

The monkeypox virus can be transmitted to humans via bites or direct contact with an infected animal's open wounds or bodily fluids such as blood.

In humans, it can be spread through direct contact with an infected person's bodily fluids as well as contaminated objects such as bedding and clothes.

The virus' incubation period is between six and 21 days and an infected person would start to show symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headaches as well as a rash that starts from the face before spreading to the hands, feet, and other parts of the body.

There are no known treatments or vaccines for the disease and human-to-human transmission is possible but limited.

The Health Ministry will be monitoring the situation and also advised tourists heading to central and west African countries to maintain strict hygiene practices, avoid touching infected wounds and wild animals as well as avoid eating bush meat.


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