Monkeypox, no threat to national health or tourism – Doctors’ Association | Sunday Observer
Doctors countrywide on alert for symptoms

Monkeypox, no threat to national health or tourism – Doctors’ Association

13 November, 2022

Vice President of the Doctors Association of Sri Lanka and expert in HIV and Sexual Health, Dr. Chitran Haturusinghe, yesterday told the Sunday Observer that the relative risk that the Sri Lankan public acquiring the monkeypox virus from another is very low.

He said this in response to the question about the risk of the monkeypox infection spreading among Sri Lankans.

“Except for a couple of imported human monkeypox cases reported so far from two patients who had arrived from Dubai, the country has not registered even a single confirmed case of the disease,” said Dr. Haturusinghe.

“We found an isolated suspected case in Puttalam on Wednesday. Multiple laboratory tests had to be carried out before we can confirm it,” he said adding, “This is not an immediate cause for concern at a national level. They serve as a reminder of the threat that this zoonotic disease may pose to humans at global level.”

Dr. Haturusinghe said that the Doctors Association of Sri Lanka (DASL) had issued a circular alerting doctors throughout the country about the disease and its symptoms to monitor the possible occurrences of infected cases.

When asked if the country’s opening to tourists could lead to acquiring the disease from foreigners, Dr. Haturusinghe said there was hardly any risk of the sort.

“Monkeypox is a self-limiting disease, meaning the symptoms of the disease usually go away after some time. Its symptoms last about two to four weeks. The case fatality ratio is also low, between three to six percent,” he said adding, “It could not threaten the country’s tourism or commercial sectors.”

“Monkeypox is not to be feared as a pandemic. The shadow of the coronavirus pandemic makes any outbreak alarming in the world today. But it would be an advantage for the public to be aware of it,” Dr. Haturusinghe said.

Initial monkeypox symptoms are fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache, muscle pain, and back pain. Rashes later appear on the face, palms of the hand, soles of the feet, and ulcers in the genital areas followed by lesions, spots and scabs, said Dr. Haturusinghe.

He said that ongoing international studies have shown that human-to-human transmission of the disease has been low except in the cases of men having same-sex interactions with multiple partners who are often anonymous.

“This has mainly been the case, but not exclusively,” he said.

“You can contract monkeypox if you have close physical contact with someone showing symptoms. The disease can spread due to close skin-to-skin contact with someone having symptoms.

The patients can be isolated and treated,” the doctor said.

People may require antibiotics and analgesia to treat secondary infections and local pain.

According to Deputy Director General of Health Services, Dr. Hemantha Herath, treatment methods are similar to those used in treating chickenpox (Varicella) infections are used to treat monkeypox patients.

According to the World Health Organization’s weekly global update on the monkeypox situation, new cases globally have increased by 2.5 percent from 1,316 cases from October 24-30 to 1,349 cases from October 31 to November 6.

Most of the cases reported in the past four weeks were from the region of Americas (91percent) and the European Region (6.2 percent).