Govt declares high alert against monkeypox

Published May 30, 2022
An electron microscopic image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virus particles as well as crescents and spherical particles of immature virions, obtained from a clinical human skin sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak in this undated image obtained by Reuters on May 18, 2022.
An electron microscopic image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virus particles as well as crescents and spherical particles of immature virions, obtained from a clinical human skin sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak in this undated image obtained by Reuters on May 18, 2022.

The federal government on Monday issued special instructions to all national and provincial health authorities to remain on high alert for any suspected case of monkeypox — a viral disease that has been spreading in Europe and elsewhere in recent days.

According to a Radio Pakistan report, the Ministry of National Health Services is closely monitoring the situation and has debunked information circulating on social media about monkeypox cases being reported in Pakistan.

"The official [of the ministry] said that as per reports of the National Institute of Health, no case of monkeypox has been diagnosed in the country so far," it added.

Explainer: How concerned should we be about monkeypox?

Previously, the NIH had also clarified that reports on the disease's prevalence in the country on social media were "incorrect". It had further called upon the national and provincial health authorities to remain vigilant for any suspected case.

Meanwhile, last week, Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel said that the government had ordered testing kits for the diagnosis of the viral disease.

"We have ordered ... the kits [for testing] and they will reach soon," he told Dawn.com, adding that staff at entry points of the country had also been alerted. "There has been no case so far," Patel confirmed.

What is monkeypox?

According to an alert issued by the NIH, monkeypox is a rare viral zoonotic disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus.

Although the natural reservoir of monkeypox is unknown, African rodents and non-human primates like monkeys may harbour the virus and infect people.

The alert said the disease could be transmitted through contact with infected animals, humans or materials contaminated with the virus.

The virus enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or the mucous membranes like the eyes, nose or mouth.

The patient develops a rash within one to three days after the appearance of fever, often beginning on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body. Other symptoms include headache, muscle aches, exhaustion and lymphadenopathy.

The incubation period is usually seven to 14 days but can range from five to 21 days. The illness typically lasts for two to four weeks.

Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organisation, some countries have started inoculating teams treating monkeypox patients using vaccines for smallpox, a related virus.

There is no specific treatment but vaccination against smallpox has been found to be about 85 per cent effective in preventing monkeypox.

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