Brazil's National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) Tuesday made it clear that measures already in place at airports and inside airplanes were being upped to protect people from COVID-19 as well as from other diseases and pointed out it isolating patients to tackle monkeypox was not among the recommendations issued.
”According to the World Health Organization (WHO), monkeypox can be transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus. The virus can be transmitted from one person to another through close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets, and contaminated materials, such as bedding, says the note.
Anvisa said it was following guidelines from international agencies to monitor the evolution of monkeypox cases while staying permanently in touch with the Health Ministry. As soon as justified, sanitary measures will be proposed, when appropriate, in addition to the existing rules in force in Brazil,” the sanitary authority underlined.
Monkeypox is little known because its incidence is higher in Africa. So far, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 131 confirmed monkeypox infections outside the African continent, and 106 other suspected cases, since the first case was reported May 7.
Given the situation, Brazil's Health Ministry has created a situation room to monitor the monkeypox scenario and devise a strategy to track suspected cases.
To date, there is no notification of suspected cases of the disease in the country, the Health Ministry said in a statement. It added state governments had been briefed about the malady.
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a smallpox-like disease occurred in monkey colonies kept for research. The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, during a period of intensified efforts to eliminate smallpox. Since then, monkeypox has been reported in humans in other West and Central African countries.
In this possible 2022 outbreak, the first case was identified in England in a man who developed skin lesions earlier this month.
Historically, vaccination against common smallpox has shown to be protective against monkeypox. Although a vaccine (MVA-BN) and a specific treatment (tecovirimat) have been approved for smallpox in 2019 and 2022, respectively, these countermeasures are not yet widely available and populations around the world under the age of 40 or 50 no longer take the smallpox vaccine, because these campaigns have been discontinued. In the UK, the smallpox vaccine is being offered to those most at risk.
Residents and travelers to endemic countries are advised to avoid contact with sick animals (dead or alive) that may harbor the smallpox virus from rodents, marsupials, and primates. Hand hygiene with soap and water or alcohol gel is important to avoid exposure to the virus, as well as avoiding contact with infected people and using objects from infected people with skin lesions.
(Sources: Agencia Brasil / Butantan)