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DOH detects first monkeypox case in PH

By AYIE LICSI Published Jul 29, 2022 3:05 pm Updated Jul 29, 2022 4:10 pm

The Department of Health (DOH) has logged the Philippines' first case of monkeypox, Undersecretary Beverly Ho announced during a Malacañang press briefing on July 29.

The patient is a 31-year-old Filipino who arrived from abroad last July 19 and had prior travel to countries with documented cases of the viral disease. 

The individual tested positive for monkeypox on July 28 via RT-PCR on July 28 and has been discharged and under strict isolation at home.

The DOH said it cannot disclose further information on the case, including the patient's travel history or where they are based.

Ten close contacts were recorded, three of which were from the same household. According to DOH, they are not exhibiting symptoms of monkeypox and have been advised to undergo quarantine for 14 to 21 days, based on the onset of symptoms.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare viral disease similar to smallpox, but is clinically less severe. Transmission can occur from person-to-person through:

  • direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or bodily fluids
  • pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta

Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, sore throat, nasal congestion, cough, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and rashes that look like pimples or blisters. These rashes can appear on the face, inside the mouth, hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the illness typically lasts two to four weeks, with rashes appearing one to five days after the first symptoms. More than 99% of patients can expect to survive.

On July 23, the World Health Organization declared a monkeypox outbreak, reporting over 18,000 cases in 78 countries, the majority of which are in Europe.

The DOH assured the public that it has systems in place to curb the spread of monkeypox and also called on the public to remain vigilant.

"Based on what we know about monkeypox, there is a very clear need to be more careful about who we interact with, particularly sexual, intimate contact. We're working closely with those population groups so that they will have better preparation, and risk perception that this is a disease that would concern them more than the general population," Ho said.

The health agency also urged those who have a travel history to countries with Monkeypox and show symptoms to seek immediate medical attention.