Health emergencies affect millions of people around the world.
If we remember, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) started as a health emergency of international concern before it became a global pandemic.
While there might be no end in sight in the COVID-19 pandemic, we are again challenged by another disease called “monkeypox” which was recently declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a public health emergency of international concern.
Monkeypox virus have already recorded cases in different countries such as the United States of America, European countries, and even in the Philippines.
During the radio program of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA)-Pangasinan, Dr. Rheuel Bobis, spokesperson of the Department of Health-Ilocos Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD1), said despite having low number of monkeypox cases in the country and zero infection in the Ilocos Region, the public should still be cautious to avoid the virus infection.
SYMPTOMS AND TRANSMISSION
Bobis said the monkeypox virus is a viral disease that originally came from the tropical rainforest of Central and West Africa.
Its symptoms are fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.
He explained that the monkeypox virus can be transmitted through human contact.
“A healthy individual could get infected by the virus once unprotected contact with the wound, body fluids, and respiratory droplets of the positive patient occurred,” said Bobis, adding that the incubation period of the monkeypox virus is within 21 days.
Bobis clarified that monkeypox virus is not an airborne disease, however, according to research, just like any virus, the characteristics of the monkeypox virus can change over time.
Since there are no recommendatory first-aid solutions when it comes to monkeypox yet, the DOH advised the public that once an individual experiences symptoms they should immediately isolate themselves for 21 days and get checked by medical experts for confirmation if they are a monkeypox virus positive.
Right now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t have any approved local vaccines regarding the monkeypox virus yet, but it is already available in other countries.
To date, the FDA and DOH are continuously coordinating with the monkeypox vaccine manufacturers to be able to get vaccines against the monkeypox virus once it is readily available.
According to the WHO, the monkeypox virus vaccine is not recommended to be administered to the mass population like COVID-19 vaccines.
Bobis said only those who are included in the special groups and vulnerable populations are allowed to get the jab, which include the pediatric population, the elderly, people with comorbidities, and pregnant women.
Even though there are no reported monkeypox-positive cases here in Region I yet, the DOH already prepared a Four-Door Strategy to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Four-Door Strategy included the placement of surveillance systems in airports and seaports, interaction with Region I hospitals, preparation of isolation facilities, and preparation of hospital kits for the isolation of the patients.
As the masses continue to be alert, Region I heightened its surveillance against the monkeypox virus and advised the public to follow the minimum public health standards dubbed as DOH’s BIDA Solution to prevent virus infection.
BIDA stands for B-est-fitting mask, I-solate when sick, D-ouble up protection with vaccines and boosters, and ensure good A-irflow.
DOH’s BIDA Solution is a social and behavioral change campaign that can cut down the virus transmission by up to 96%.