Experts: Monkeypox not as contagious as Covid-19

PETALING JAYA: With over 6,000 cases reported globally, health experts do not foresee monkeypox being as contagious as Covid-19 but say there are certain precautionary measures that should be observed.

Universiti Putra Malaysia epidemiologist Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman said it was quite unlikely for monkeypox to turn into a potential epidemic in Malaysia.

This, she said, was because a certain portion of the population had already received the smallpox vaccine, which is said to be 85% effective against monkeypox.

“That is why the impact of monkeypox infection may not be as severe as Covid-19,” she said.

Noting that the transmission of monkeypox was similar to measles and chickenpox, Dr Malina said it could spread through close contact, direct skin transmission and even sexual relations.

“Given the case, prevention would involve avoiding close contact with unknown individuals, suspected cases, avoiding crowds, maintaining hand hygiene and wearing masks,” she said.

She explained that while those exposed to the virus might be susceptible to contracting monkeypox, the severity would also depend on the immunity level and whether they had underlying co-morbidities.

Those who are immunocompromised, co-morbid and aged might be at risk of severe infection, she added. “But a majority of cases will resolve within two to four weeks,” she said.

Virologist Dr Chee Hui Yee from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the same university said monkeypox could spread through direct contact with an infectious rash, scabs or bodily fluids as well as respiratory secretions during intimate physical contact.

As for pregnant mothers, she said, the virus, could spread to the foetus through the placenta.

“Pregnant women are at risk if their partner is infected with monkeypox,” she said.

Dr Chee said that although early data showed that a high number of cases involved those who had same-sex sexual relationship, especially among men, anyone in close contact with someone who had monkeypox was at risk.

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