KARACHI: No case of monkeypox disease has so far been reported in Pakistan. It’s usually a self-limiting illness against which an effective (smallpox) vaccine is already available. Its virus, unlike coronavirus, doesn’t spread through the air and infected people have obvious signs. Most cases (in the world) have been reported in male sex workers that seem to have spread the virus.

These points were highlighted in a webinar organised on Wednesday by the American Society for Microbiology.

Giving a presentation, titled ‘Monkeypox is a threat? What we need to know’, Prof Saeed Khan, ASM Ambassador to Pakistan and head of molecular pathology at Dow University of Health Sciences, said most monkeypox disease cases saw recovery in two to four weeks.

“In severe cases, the mortality rate is three per cent. There is no need for panic and no case should be declared as a case of monkeypox disease unless it is confirmed through laboratory testing,” he said, adding that testing kits for the virus would soon be available at DUHS.

The typical symptoms included fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, lack of energy, swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash or lesions. Monkeypox virus was transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids and contaminated materials such as bedding, clothing or eating utensils.

“Ulcers, lesions or sores in the mouth can also be infectious, meaning the virus can spread through saliva. Transmission can also occur via the placenta from mother to foetus (which can lead to congenital monkeypox) or during close contact during and after birth,” he said.

Dr Khan said while it’s very unlikely that monkeypox disease turned into a pandemic like Covid-19, there was indeed a need for creating awareness about the disease and remaining vigilant.

To another question, he said, so far 200 cases had been reported in the whole world.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2022

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