BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei will procure vaccines and antivirals for monkeypox as cases of zoonotic virus continue to increase worldwide.

Health officials have said that no cases of monkeypox have been detected in Brunei so far, but the country is preparing for a possible outbreak due to the risk of spreading the virus to the community.

At a press conference on Monday, he outlined a monkeypox prevention and management plan, stating that the Ministry of Health is in the process of obtaining vaccines and antivirals, but no mass vaccination is required at this time.

Dr. Justin Wong, a public health consultant at MoH, said the monkeypox vaccine can be given to close contact with cases.

He said previous vaccination against smallpox could provide protection from monkeypox infections.

Smallpox, eradicated in 1980, is closely associated with the virus that causes monkeypox.

Studies have shown that vaccination against smallpox was 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.

“But individuals born after the early 1970s [smallpox] Vaccine, “said Dr. Wong.

He added that the country’s monkeypox prevention and management plan has five priorities. 1) Monitoring. 2) Laboratory tests; 3) Vaccinations and medicines; 4) Prevention and management; 5) Community involvement.

Minister of Health Dato Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar MoH said it is monitoring visitors to clinics and hospitals for symptoms of monkeypox as part of its surveillance.

“If there is concern, or if someone is suspected of having monkeypox, there are processes that need to be followed and the disease management team will investigate further,” he added.

The World Health Organization said a total of 2,103 cases of monkeypox were identified in 42 countries. As of June 15th. One death was also reported.

Monkeypox was previously prevalent in Africa, but has since spread to Europe, North America and Latin America.

Electron micrographs show mature oval monkeypox virus particles, as well as immature virion crescent and spherical particles, obtained from clinical human skin samples.Photo: Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery / CDC distribution via Reuters

Currently, Brunei does not have the diagnostic ability to test for monkeypox. The Ministry of Health said swab samples will be sent abroad, but is also working to enable the institute to detect the virus in Brunei.

Dr. Hjh Riamiza Natalie Hj Momin, a MoH infectious disease consultant, said most monkeypox cases do not require “special treatment”.

“They usually receive pain relief treatment for the rash and treatment for possible complications such as superinfection of bacteria,” she said.

However, she added that antiviral drugs for monkeypox can be considered for people at high risk, such as those with immunodeficiency and those with complications.

What you need to know about monkeypox

Monkeybox is a zoonotic viral disease caused by the monkeypox virus infection of the orthopox virus group. Diseases such as smallpox found in monkeys were first discovered in 1958 when they were kept for research.

The first case of monkeypox in humans was recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970. Since then, it has been reported in several other countries in Central and West Africa.

The main symptoms of monkeypox are rash, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Other symptoms include headache, muscle aches, body aches, and malaise.

These symptoms can resemble smallpox, chickenpox, shingles, and certain skin infections.

In most cases, the symptoms disappear within 2-4 weeks. If you experience any symptoms, it is advisable to see a doctor for further investigation.

Monkeypox virus is transmitted by direct physical contact. In most cases, it has been found to spread through sexual and intimate contact.

“Overall, the current risk to the general public remains low, but this risk is higher for certain populations, especially for sexually active individuals with multiple partners,” said Dr. Wong.

“Monkeypox infection has been previously characterized as a mild self-limiting disease, but it can become more severe in high-risk groups and lead to immunodeficiency, such as in people who have not been treated with HIV.” He added.

Monkeypox is usually mild and few hospitalizations have been reported for secondary infection and pain management.

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