The Ministry of Health and Social Services has issued an advisory warning the public to be on the lookout for a monkeypox outbreak.

Commonly found in central and Western Africa, Monkey is an uncommon viral infection that spreads primarily from animals to humans. On the other hand, WHO reports suggest that its Member States have a total of 92 positive cases and 28 cases where doctors suspect the disease to be Monkeypox. These cases have been found in persons residing in countries where Monkeypox is not found and none of them have been to Central or Western Africa.

The majority of these cases are found in men who have sexual intercourse with men (MSM). This shows that intimate physical contact might cause a spread and transmission of the virus and advises caution to those with new sexual partners.

As of now, the healthcare officials have not reported any Monkeypox cases in the Caribbean. Since the spread of the virus has increased, there is not much to worry about. However, once international travel reaches the pre-Covid frequency, countries in the Caribbean, such as Montserrat will have to deal with an influx of the virus carried by tourists.

To inform the citizens, and to strengthen the existing healthcare infrastructure to handle the foreign cases, the Ministry of Health is conducting awareness campaigns.

Citizens should be familiar with the symptoms and signs to ensure immediate identification, contamination, and treatment of this disease. The initial symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, chills, muscle aches, backache, headache, fever, and exhaustion. In the subsequent stages, chicken pox-like rashes will start to appear. The disease is less lethal and most patients will recover easily.

Mass outbreaks of these viruses can be easily handled with the monkeypox and smallpox vaccines. Since monkeypox has already been eradicated, new vaccines are not available and monkeypox is not usually seen as an imminent threat and doesn’t form part of the local immunization routine.

Montserrat’s Ministry of Health is planning its action plan against Monkeypox while the vaccine guidelines of the  Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) are yet to be received.

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