Everything About Monkeypox & The First Case That Happened in S’pore

Image: ROSSARINPHOTO / Shutterstock.com (Image for illustration purpose only)

You’ve heard of chickenpox, now get ready for…

Monkeypox.

GIF: Giphy.com

Huh? What’s that?

If you haven’t heard of it before, that’s because the monkeypox disease didn’t originally exist in Singapore, but it is now, having been imported in from a foreign country.

So, what actually happened?

The Man That Started It All

A Nigerian man who visited Singapore last month for a workshop brought along more than just himself – he also carried the monkeypox disease within him.

Following him testing positive for infection of the virus on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health has thus confirmed that his case is the first reported case of monkeypox in Singapore.

The man was reported to have consumed bush meat, a possible source of the transmission of monkeypox, when he attended a wedding in Nigeria recently.

Bush meat is basically meat from wild animals that are hunted and eaten as a source of protein, common in some parts of Africa where it is difficult to obtain meat from domesticated animals due to the price and availability.

Next time, don’t complain about wedding food anymore.

Quarantine Time

Upon his arrival in Singapore, he attended the workshop for two days before coming down with monkeypox symptoms such as having a high fever, muscle ache, chills and skin rash.

Subsequently, he was sent to hospital and is now currently quarantined at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). Fortunately, he remains in stable condition.

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It wasn’t only him who ended up getting referred to NCID, however.

23 people who were identified to have come into close contact with the man including workshop participants and hotel staff also had to get quarantined for at least 21 days from their last interaction with him.

The Ministry of Health is being really thorough with the investigation and control of the disease, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and nip the problem at the bud.

Wait, so what exactly is monkeypox?

Is it like chickenpox, but from monkeys instead?

Yes, yes it is.

Image: Facebook/Ministry of Health

Monkeypox is an infectious virus mostly hailing from central and western Africa and can occur in various animals such as monkeys, rodents and humans. Its name came about when the virus was first discovered in monkeys kept for research.

The virus is usually spread from wild animals, but humans can also catch the disease by preparing or eating bush meat.

So the next time you come across some particularly weird meat that doesn’t seem to be anything like chicken, beef, pork or any of the conventional sort on your plate, be careful.

If someone exhibits symptoms of having fever, headache, muscle ache, backache, swollen lymph nodes or skin rash, they may be infected with monkeypox.

You must be wondering, huh? Is it contagious or not? 

Thankfully, you don’t have to go bananas about it just yet.

The disease is rare and transmission between humans is limited – you’re only at risk if you’re in close contact with the respiratory tract secretions and skin lesions of an infected person or contaminated objects.

It is also self-limiting, which means that it is a disease that will tend to go away on its own without much treatment, and most infected patients usually recover within 2 to 3 weeks. Phew!

As it is, monkeypox still remains of low risk in Singapore. Thank God.

Precautionary Measures

If, for any reason, that you’re going to be travelling to Africa, here are some precautionary measures you can take to reduce the risk of getting the monkeypox virus.

  • Just like you learned when you were a kid, always maintain good personal hygiene and wash your hands after going to the toilet or getting them dirty.
  • Don’t touch anyone who has contracted the virus or any objects that seem to be contaminated with it, including clothes or bedsheets.
  • If someone offers you bush meat, don’t eat it!
  • If you develop any symptoms, go to your doctor immediately.

No monkey business, basically. Stay safe!

And just so you know, no, unlike monkeypox, chickenpox doesn’t get its name from chicken. One theory is that people called it chickenpox because of the phrase “chicken out”: there are more serious infections like smallpox, so having chickenpox is kind of like you’ve chickened out from the “serious pox”.

Yeah, you were today years old when you learn this.