Monkeypox outbreak: South Korea, Singapore confirm first cases

The Singapore case concerns a British man who was in the city-state between 15 and 17 June. He tested positive for monkey pox on Monday after developing a skin rash last week and suffering from headaches and fever.

“During this period, he had largely stayed in his hotel room, except to visit a massage parlor on June 16 and eat at three eateries,” Singapore’s health ministry said on Tuesday.

Thirteen of the man’s close contacts have been identified and contact tracing is underway, the ministry said, adding that the man is being treated at the National Center for Infectious Diseases.

The case in South Korea concerns a South Korean national who turned himself in to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Wednesday after returning to the country from Germany. The KCDA said the South Korean – who is now being treated at a facility in Seoul – reported having a headache before flying and developing a fever, sore throat, fatigue and skin lesions upon arrival in the country.

Meanwhile, South Korea said it was also investigating a second suspected case involving a foreigner who entered the country on Monday and was taken to a hospital in the city of Busan after experiencing symptoms and developing a blistering skin.

Silent spread of monkey pox could be a wake-up call to the world

Monkeypox, considered a less severe cousin to smallpox, has an incubation period of seven to 14 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The first symptoms are usually flu-like, such as fever, chills, exhaustion, headache and muscle weakness, followed by swelling in the lymph nodes, which help the body fight infection and disease.

The disease later progresses to a rash and lesions that can blister and scab all over the body – this usually takes two to four weeks.

In some places, including parts of West and Central Africa, the virus has been circulating for decades.

But the current outbreak has seen more than 2500 cases is reported in dozens of countries where the disease was not considered endemic — including Australia, which reported its first case on May 20, and the United States, where the CDC had reported more than 110 confirmed cases as of Friday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently said it will remove the distinction between endemic and non-endemic countries to reflect a “unified response”.

“The unexpected appearance of monkeypox in different regions in the initial absence of epidemiological links to areas that have historically reported monkeypox suggests that there may have been undetected transmission for some time,” the WHO said in a press release. recent update
A microscope image of mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and globular immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin.

Lessons from Covid-19

Singapore last discovered a case of monkey pox in 2019, in a 38-year-old Nigerian man who had traveled to the city-state to attend a wedding.

Monkeypox is not a new disease, so we actually know quite a bit about the disease and the virus [which] has been around for a while,” said Khoo Yoong Khean, a physician and research associate at the Duke-NUS Center for Outbreak Preparedness in Singapore.

“But there is a change in the way the disease circulates and spreads in this current outbreak… [and] this appears to be an evolving situation.”

Khoo said lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic could be applied to any possible monkeypox outbreak in the region.

US rolls out 1,200 monkeypox vaccines in response to outbreak

“It is wise for countries to pay attention. We have many tools that we have used for Covid-19 and they will now be useful: contract tracing methods, quarantine protocols and even a mass immunization strategy if needed.

“While I don’t think we need to worry too much about the global situation, and we may be in a better place now, disease outbreaks are never predictable as we know. We could be in for surprises from monkeypox in the near future , so we must continue to strengthen our health and surveillance systems, cooperate with other countries and make better decisions than [we did] during the Covid pandemic.”

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