Yes, health authorities have confirmed that monkeypox, an illness caused by the monkeypox virus which is a viral zoonotic infection, is now in the Philippines, still reeling from the coronavirus 2019 pandemic.
The detected case, announced only the other day, is of a 31-year-old Filipino who arrived from abroad on July 19 – with no other details like gender, what country the case has come from, except that the case and traced close contacts are now in isolation.
Officials have said the government’s surveillance systems immediately detected monkeypox, a zoonotic infection which means it can spread from animals to humans or from person to person.
Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said: “We immediately took care of and isolated the patient to keep the disease from spreading (and) fast contact tracing has identified the close contacts to halt transmission.
Health OIC Undersecretary Beverly Ho also said the unnamed case remains under strict isolation and monitoring.
Monkeypox, according to medical authorities, can cause a range of signs and symptoms.
While some people have mild symptoms, others may develop more serious symptoms and need care in a health facility. Those at higher risk for severe disease or complications include people who are pregnant, children, and persons that are immunocompromised.
The most common symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, and swollen lymph nodes.
This is followed or accompanied by the development of a rash which can last for two to three weeks. The rash can be found on the face, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, eyes, mouth, throat, groin, and genital and/or anal regions of the body.
The number of lesions can range from one to several thousand. Lesions begin flat, then fill with liquid before they crust over, dry up and fall off, with a fresh layer of skin forming underneath.
Symptoms typically last two to three weeks and usually go away on their own or with supportive care, such as medication for pain or fever.
People remain infectious until all of the lesions have crusted over, the scabs fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath.
Authorities have advised anyone who has symptoms that could be monkeypox or who has been in contact with someone who has monkeypox should call or visit a health care provider and seek their advice.
Experts say environments can become contaminated with the monkeypox virus, for instance when an infectious person touches clothing, bedding, towels, objects, electronics, and surfaces.
Someone else who touches these items can then become infected. It is also possible to become infected from breathing in skin flakes or viruses from clothing, bedding, or towels. This is known as fomite transmission.
Ulcers, lesions, or sores in the mouth can be infectious, meaning the virus can spread through direct contact with the mouth, respiratory droplets, and possibly through short-range aerosols.
Possible mechanisms of transmission through the air for monkeypox are not yet well understood and studies are underway to learn more.
The World Health Organization itself has said the virus can also spread from someone who is pregnant to the fetus, after birth through skin-to-skin contact, or from a parent with monkeypox to an infant or child during close contact.
Although the asymptomatic infection has been reported, it is not clear whether people without any symptoms can spread the disease or whether it can spread through other bodily fluids.
Pieces of DNA from the monkeypox virus have been found in semen, but it is not yet known whether infection can spread through semen, vaginal fluids, amniotic fluids, breastmilk, or blood.
Research is underway to find out more about whether people can spread monkeypox through the exchange of these fluids during and after symptomatic infection.
In most cases, WHO said, the symptoms of monkeypox go away on their own within a few weeks.
However, in some people, an infection can lead to medical complications and even death.
Newborn babies, children, and people with underlying immune deficiencies may be at risk of more serious symptoms and death from monkeypox.
As DOH officer-in-charge Vergeire said: “Let us continue to be vigilant and follow our health protocols.”