Upon seeing this headline, some readers might be thinking: Seriously, why can’t we catch a break from all these twice-damned diseases?
But yes, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed an imported case of monkeypox in Singapore.
The first patient is a 43-year-old British man who works as a flight attendant, staying briefly in Singapore between last Wednesday and Friday (15 and 17 June), before he flew in and out of the country again on Sunday night.
He tested positive for monkeypox on Monday, and is currently being quarantined in the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).
On the brighter side of things though (questionable phrasing, I know), monkeypox isn’t as easily transmissible as coronavirus.
What is Monkeypox?
In truth, monkeypox has been around for quite some time.
The nonlethal, smallpox-like, skin disease was first discovered among a group of captive monkeys at a research institute in 1958, hence its given name.
In terms of genus, it is closely related to the Orthopoxvirus, which includes smallpox, cowpox, and horsepox.
The first human case of monkeypox was recorded In 1970.
Throughout the decades, outbreaks have occurred in several central and western African countries, typically among populations that hunt and consume bushmeat.
From numerous scientific studies conducted over the years, we have learnt that monkeypox is transmitted through close physical or prolonged contact.
Human-to-human transmission is quite rare, but it can occur through exposure to respiratory droplets or direct physical contact with blood, bodily fluids or lesions from the infected person or contaminated materials.
Its symptoms include fever, headache, muscle ache, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, lethargy and a skin rash.
All in all, it does not sound like a good time.
The incubation period can range anywhere from 5 to 21 days.
Individuals who are infected with smallpox tend to suffer from fevers until their skin lesions scab over.
The First Patient and the Possibly Affected
According to the MOH, the British man started having a headache on 14 June, which turned into a fever two days later.
Due to his symptoms, he stayed in his hotel room for the most part, though he did visit a massage saloon and three food establishments on 16 June.
After his fever and headache subsided, rashes developed on his skin on Sunday.
With the checklist of symptoms acquiring more and more ticks, the patient proceeded to seek medical attention via teleconsultation that night and was taken to NCID the following day for further assessment.
To play on the safe side, the thirteen close contacts that were identified on Tuesday have been placed under quarantine for the next 21 days.
Two other low-risk contacts are under phone surveillance, where they will receive daily phone calls for the next 21-days to check for any onset of symptoms.
They will be conveyed to NCID, should they exhibit any telling symptoms of monkeypox.
With regards to the places that the British man has visited, they are currently undergoing cleansing and disinfection.
This is the first imported monkeypox case detected in Singapore since 2019, where a Nigerian man had tested positive.
In other news, the MOH also confirmed on 6 June that another traveller transiting through Singapore to Australia had tested positive for monkeypox the week before.
What Should You Do To Stay Safe?
As a matter of fact, certain categories of people have a higher risk of severe illness, namely the young children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals.
The ways to prevent the transmission of diseases are, by and large, the same.
The MOH urges members of the public, especially those travelling abroad, to maintain a high standard of hygiene.
This means that everyone should wash their hands frequently after going to the toilet, or when their hands are dirty. Frequent showers and keeping your mask on helps too.
It’s not like anyone will look at you strangely for donning a mask; rather, we are more likely to look at you judgmentally now if you’re caught without one.
It is also important to pay close attention to the state of your own health: individuals should seek medical attention immediately if they have any of the disease symptoms—such as the sudden onset of high fever, swollen lymph nodes, and rashes—which are clear indicators of monkeypox.
Furthermore, individuals should inform their consulting doctor of their recent travelling history.
In the case that you’re infected, touchwood, it’s of utmost importance that the situation is monitored and contained.
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