Monkey pox: Asia is high with reported cases from India to Japan

On Monday, Japanese authorities announced the country’s first case of monkeypox — a Tokyo resident in his 30s who returned from Europe in mid-July. According to the officials of the Ministry of Health, the man developed fatigue, then fever, rash and headache.

He is currently being treated at a hospital and is in “stable condition,” officials added, declining to provide additional information about the patient, including his nationality.

Early symptoms of monkeypox infection include fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, back pain, muscle aches, and lack of energy. The disease later turns into rashes and sores, blisters and scabs all over the body — usually lasting two to four weeks.

According to the World Health Organization, there are already antiviral drugs and vaccines against monkeypox, including those used to eradicate smallpox.

Japan’s first confirmed case comes after the Foreign Ministry this week urged travelers to be cautious about the disease. Officials say treatment and prevention measures have been launched and vaccines have been administered to front-line health workers studying in Tokyo.

Cargo in Asia remains low, but experts say the region is “likely to increase” in the coming weeks.

“Like Covid-19, border and travel restrictions have not stopped the spread of monkeypox, they have delayed it. The disease will (continue to) spread around the world,” said Kho Yoon Kheung, a researcher at the Duke-NUS Center. Epidemic Preparedness in Singapore.

“Travel, trade and tourism are increasing rapidly in the US and Europe. We will see an increase in cases of monkeypox in Asia over the next few weeks to months.”

According to Ho, it is only a matter of time before more countries in Asia identify cases of monkeypox.

“The real issue now for countries in Asia is whether early detection and surveillance systems and processes are sufficient to handle positive cases.” he said.

However, he warned of border restrictions.

“While they are (somewhat) useful as a stop-gap measure, they are not sustainable and could be exacerbated after the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

“We must be vigilant”

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been more than 19,000 cases of monkeypox in at least 76 regions around the world – the vast majority in places where the virus is not endemic.

About a dozen of these new locations are in Asia and the Pacific.

Thailand reported its first case of a 27-year-old foreigner on the resort island of Phuket last week. The Southeast Asian nation has raised health warnings and stepped up checks at border crossings after a patient fled to neighboring Cambodia following reports of a positive test result. He was later arrested in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters on Monday that Thai hospitals should also scan potential patients for monkeypox and undergo immediate laboratory testing.

New cases have been reported in other Asian countries, including Singapore and India.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health has confirmed a total of 1 case, including local infections and recent patients from Canada, the UK and Germany.

India is also on high alert after the capital, Delhi, confirmed a fourth case of monkeypox on Monday. A 34-year-old man was admitted to the hospital with a rash and fever of two weeks’ duration. The first three cases were identified in the southern state of Kerala in travelers from the United Arab Emirates.

A health worker prepares a syringe with the Bavarian Nordic monkeypox vaccine in Munich, Germany

Airport checks have been stepped up and a high-level medical team has been sent to Kerala to assist the state’s health authorities with medical research, Indian officials said.

In a statement on Tuesday, WHO regional director Poonam K. Singh said the risk of monkeypox spreading in Southeast Asia was “moderate, but the potential for further international spread is real.”

Anyone can get monkeypox, but a “significant proportion” of cases in the global outbreak are among gay and bisexual men, according to the CDC.

That doesn’t mean the virus is sexually transmitted, but officials say it suggests prolonged skin-to-skin contact is one of the main ways monkeypox spreads.

“We need to be vigilant and ready to respond strongly to reduce the spread of monkeypox,” said Singh of the WHO. “Our actions and actions must be sensitive and avoid stigma and discrimination.”

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