THA Health Division monitoring monkeypox


THA Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection Dr Faith BYisrael. Photo courtesy THA

Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection Dr Faith BYisrael is hoping that the country would never record any cases of monkeypox.

So far, cases have been detected in the US, the UK, Spain, and Portugal. The first was reported on May 7.

Speaking with Newsday on Tuesday, BYisrael said she was not too worried, noting that monkeypox is a viral infection that is not easily spread.

“It is pretty difficult to spread, it actually takes person-to-person contact. It is spread from the fluids that come out of the lesions, so that makes it a little more difficult to spread, because people physically have to be next to each other to get it. It has to be in physical contact.”

But, she said should there be a need, the health systems are prepared to deal with it.

“I certainly hope it’s not necessary, but we are prepared to treat it. We will have to implement – like Belgium just did – quarantine orders so if we know someone who has it, they will have to stay isolated, and the people close to them would also need to be isolated and quarantined.

“Those are things we know we would have to do if and when it comes.”

She explaining the symptoms to look out for.

“In essence, we treat the symptoms, so we treat the fever, etc.

“When you initially get the disease, it starts with you feeling tired and a fever, but the end part of the disease is you having rash – a rash that you actually see that looks like boils on your skin. The way it is transmitted, it is the pus that comes out of the rash, so you have to actually physically touch somebody else and have that liquid, have that pus touch another person.”

The disease can be deadly, she said.

“It can kill you.” But she added, “When we look at populations like us, where we have access to healthcare, I don’t envision that if we get it, which I am hoping that we don’t – that if we get it, we have to be too concerned about death.”

She said a PCR test is done to confirm the virus.

“They look specifically for that virus, so that is how we confirm that you really have monkeypox.”

She is encouraging people to be cautious.

“You have to be vigilant. You have to look at yourself: if you get these symptoms and you recognise that you start seeing a little rash on your hand, then you need to get that checked out, because that could be monkeypox. If you have a rash that you cannot figure out where that rash is coming from, that is a sign that you need to contact the health professionals.”

On Monday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, in response to a question in the House of Representatives, said efforts are being made to acquire the Jynneos vaccine, used to treat monkeypox, should the disease reach Trinidad and Tobago.

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