Kenya heightens border surveillance as monkeypox spreads

for Tv47 Digital May 25, 2022, 12:34 PM
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David Heymann of WHO: "What seems to be happening now is that it has got into the population as a sexual form, as a genital form, and is being spread as are sexually transmitted infections, which has amplified its transmission around the world." PHOTO/CON

Surveillance has been heightened at all entry points into Kenya to detect cases of monkeypox.

Addressing the press at the Kisii Agricultural Training Centre on Wednesday, May 25, Health Permanent Secretary Susan Mochache said there was no cause for alarm since the virus has not yet been reported in Kenya and the entire Eastern Africa.

PS Mochache assured the nation that the Ministry of Health had set up proper response systems to tackle any cases if there were to be.

“We have nothing to fear, we are going to use the same surveillance mechanisms we used during COVID-19 to respond to the monkeypox outbreak. We have the capacity to test,” she stated.

She further added that the country has the capacity to do tests as a way of identifying the virus whose outbreak has been reported in Europe.

What is monkeypox?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes Monkeypox as a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms very similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.

"It is caused by the monkeypox virus which belongs to the orthopoxvirus genus of the Poxviridae family. There are two clades of monkeypox virus: the West African clade and the Congo Basin (Central African) clade," says WHO.

The name monkeypox originates from the initial discovery of the virus in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958. The first human case was identified in a child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970.

Monkeypox virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.

Monkeypox incubation

The incubation period of monkeypox is usually from 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days.

Various animal species have been identified as susceptible to the monkeypox virus. Uncertainty remains on the natural history of the monkeypox virus and further studies are needed to identify the exact reservoir(s) and how virus circulation is maintained in nature.

Eating inadequately cooked meat and other animal products of infected animals is a possible risk factor.

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