There had been a monkeypox outbreak in both Europe and North America recently and experts are now urging Malaysians to get themselves vaccinated before travelling overseas to protect themselves against the virus.
According to Bernama, Public health expert from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Prof Dr Malina Osman urged the Health Ministry (KKM) to come up with guidelines for those who want to travel to countries affected by the outbreak as a precautionary measure to prevent the disease from spreading to this country.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines recommend getting the existing smallpox vaccine which is said to be 85 per cent effective in preventing monkeypox. However, I’m not sure (whether) it’s available in government clinics but in private clinics, it might be,” she said.
She also urged the government to intensify controls at the country’s borders by monitoring the entry of individuals from countries affected by the outbreak.
“I believe the MOH will issue guidelines on monitoring monkeypox symptoms. I’m also confident that it is similar to dealing with chicken pox, namely to be quarantined within a certain period to prevent local transmission,” she added.
Dr Malina explained that the virus originated in monkeys and was spread to humans through contact with body fluids such as saliva, nasal mucus and phlegm.
She said that most infected patients would recover without complications and that the mortality rate was also low compared to chickenpox, which was around 3% to 6%. She added that those infected will recover between 2 to 4 weeks.
Meanwhile, Public health expert Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar also advised those who are experiencing symptoms after returning from the affected countries to immediately seek medical examination.
“We have to get the symptoms checked. So far, the virus has not been reported in Malaysia so we have to be extra vigilant, especially those who have visited or returned from Europe.”
“And if necessary, do not mingle with others,” he said.
Another public health expert Dr Hanafiah Bashirun urged the public to not panic about the outbreak as the complications from monkeypox were similar to that of chicken pox and the mortality rate was also low.
“It can be transmitted from one person to another but unlike the Covid-19 virus which can be transmitted within 15 seconds, the monkeypox virus takes hours to infect a person.”
“There is no medicine to prevent monkeypox and if infected, it will heal on its own,” he said.
In a statement, WHO said they are working with their partners to better understand the extent and cause of an outbreak of monkeypox. As of now, at least 8 countries have reported cases of monkeypox in recent days, namely Australia, Canada, United States, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.