Saint Kitts and Nevis is preparing for the possible detection of monkeypox in the Federation.
This is according to the chief medical officer of Joseph en France General Hospital, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, who said that with monkeypox cases increasing in Europe, the United States and countries around the world, Saint Kitts and Nevis is on high alert.
The World Health Organization defines monkeypox as a zoonotic viral disease (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in patients with smallpox, although less clinically serious.
Monkeypox occurs mostly in central and western Africa. It is called monkeypox because it was first identified in laboratory monkeys. Recently there has been an outbreak of monkeypox around the world.
According to Dr. Wilkinson, WHO said that it expects more monkeypox cases to emerge as surveillance expands in non-endemic countries, it is reasonable to expect that it could be detected in the country soon.
“Because Saint Kitts and Nevis is just a flight away from some of these countries that have monkeypox, just like when COVID-19 started and people thought it was there in Wuhan and I saw that in just that short amount of time it took before it got here” .
The good news, he said, is that monkeypox is not usually contagious. It takes close, close contact with an infectious person to become contagious.
In determining who is at risk of contracting the virus, Dr. Wilkinson said that the most vulnerable among us will be at greater risk.”
“At risk includes pregnant women and people who are immunocompromised. For example, if someone has cancer, uncontrolled diabetes, if they take steroids, or if they have HIV.”
He also noted the higher risk in people who are in contact with family and health care workers, and said it is more severe in children.
“Right now, we think the risk to the general public is low but there is cause for concern and it is important for us to raise awareness,” he said. I think if people are aware of monkeypox and can come in here and we can give people information on how to contain the spread, that’s how we’re going to control because we know that with Covid-19 there’s been a lot of irresponsible behavior of people who don’t adhere to non-pharmaceuticals. Simple to control it. “
“We don’t want to be alarming but we do want to make sure that people are aware of this disease so we don’t see a similar situation,” he said.
“Information, as with covid19, may evolve over time, but as it stands, the data currently available suggests that people who are in close physical contact with someone who has monkeypox precisely when they develop symptoms, then the virus can be transmitted to someone.”
He advised that some of the same precautions that have been used for COVID-19 will also help protect against monkeypox.
“It’s up to personal responsibility and soon we’ll have people coming here for the music festival and a number of other things, you’re going to need to know what the virus is there, that there’s a risk if you’re in a mass gathering nearby of people who are screaming, rubbing their shoulders and so on, you can expose yourself at risk.”
“Face masks can help because we are calling on health care workers to use the N95 mask if they come into contact with someone who has monkeypox or if you live with someone who has the virus, then if you hand sanitize and wear a face mask etc., it helps protect you.” Once it’s passed on, you’ll know how to protect yourself.”
The California Department of Public Health reports that symptoms of monkeypox in humans are similar but milder than those of smallpox.
Symptoms can begin with fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and fatigue.
There are a number of measures that can be taken to prevent monkeypox infection:
- Isolate infected patients from others at risk of infection.
- Practice good hand hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans. For example, wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid contact with animals that may harbor the virus
- Avoid direct contact with any materials, such as bedding or laundry, that have come into contact with an animal or sick person.
- Use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) When caring for patients, which includes gowns, gloves, respirators, and eye protection.
The time from infection to monkeypox symptoms is usually 7 to 14 days but can range from 5 to 21 days. The disease usually lasts for 2-4 weeks.