Public Health Ministry Sets Up Center To Monitor Monkeypox

An emergency operations center has been set up to monitor the monkeypox virus in Thailand after it spread to at least 12 countries, the Public Health Ministry announced.

Department of Disease Control (DDC)’s director-general, Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, said the center was designed to keep the outbreak’s progress under close surveillance, even though the virus has not been detected in the kingdom, as the risk increases from arrivals international.

Thailand recently foreign visitors, meaning that some international travelers could spread the virus while traveling, especially those coming from Central and West Africa. In both areas, the disease has been categorized as endemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has started taking measures to deal with the situation. Last Friday, it held an emergency meeting to discuss the outbreak after over 100 cases were detected in Europe alone.

According to the latest official figures, the virus has been found in nine European countries: Germany, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Belgium, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Monkeypox has also been reported in the United States, Australia, and Canada.

Dr. Opas said Thailand had received 13,142 arrivals from the UK, 1,352 from Spain, and 268 from Portugal from May 1 to May 22. In response, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered the Public Health Ministry to monitor the monkeypox outbreak while educating people to prevent the disease.

The DDC said people could get monkeypox through close contact with an infected person or animal but added that human-to-human transmission is limited. In those cases, transmission occurs through close contact with body fluids, contaminated material, or respiratory droplets.

However, experts say monkeypox is unlikely to cause another pandemic.

Monkeypox causes similar symptoms to smallpox, but they are less contagious and less severe. Dr. Mingkwan Wichaidit, director of the Department of Medical Services’ Institute of Dermatology, explained that its symptoms might include fever, headache, body aches, rash, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. Most symptoms last up to four weeks.

Medical research has shown that the disease’s fatality rate is about 10%, with most deaths caused by lung inflammation, dehydration, brain inflammation, and other complications. But the Jynneos vaccine has been licensed to prevent monkeypox, Dr. Mingkwan added.