EAC urges public education on monkeypox to limit spread
The East African Community (EAC) partner states have been urged to provide the necessary information to citizens to protect themselves and prevent the spread of monkeypox.
This follows reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) of 780 laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox as of June 2. The cases were reported to WHO by 27 Member States in four WHO regions that are not endemic for monkeypox virus, while Monkeypox is endemic. in some African countries.
According to the WHO, 1,392 suspected cases of monkeypox have been reported this year up to mid-May in seven African countries. Of these, 44 cases have been confirmed.
That’s in 4.5 months just under half the number of cases reported for all of last year.
According to the WHO, the sudden appearance of monkeypox in several countries around the world indicates that the virus has been spreading undetected for some time outside the countries of West and Central Africa where it is usually found. .
“Due to the proximity of the EAC Partner States to some of the affected countries, it is important that we take precautionary measures to minimize its spread. It is important that people receive the necessary information on the nature of the disease and how they can protect themselves and prevent the spread of the disease,” said Christophe Bazivamo, EAC Deputy Secretary General for Productive Sectors and social.
He added: It will also help avoid unnecessary panic and stigma, especially now that people easily associate any disease outbreak with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The DSG further highlighted the importance of evidence-based risk communication to communities that provides needed information without causing unnecessary concern, and the need for increased monitoring.
Monkeypox outbreaks are not new. The virus was first discovered in monkeys in 1958, with the first human case in the African region detected in 1970. Since then, there have been multiple outbreaks of the viral disease which can spread from animals to humans but can also spread between people.
Transmission is possible through close contact with an infected person or objects such as clothing and sheets as well as droplets. Symptoms usually include rashes or sores, fever, severe headache, muscle aches, back pain, general body weakness and swollen lymph nodes and last for two to four weeks.
In many patients, the symptoms are mild and go away on their own, but severe cases and even death can occur. The WHO says the case fatality rate, or the percentage of people who die compared to those diagnosed, is around 3-6%.
Compared to COVID-19, which is a highly contagious disease, transmission of monkeypox is more difficult. The WHO considers the current risk posed by monkeypox to human health and the general public to be low.
A person suspected of having contracted monkeypox should isolate themselves from physical contact with others and seek immediate medical attention. The virus responsible for monkeypox belongs to the same group as the smallpox virus, but it is a much milder and less deadly form of it.
Smallpox vaccination has been shown to be protective against monkeypox and a new smallpox and monkeypox vaccine has been approved but is not yet widely available. An antiviral to treat monkeypox virus has recently been approved in the United States of America and the European Union. Otherwise, the treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms and includes, for example, painkillers.