No case of Monkeypox in Ghana – GHS

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) says no case of Monkeypox has been confirmed in the country yet.

However, according to the Acting Head of Disease Surveillance of the GHS, Dr Dennis Laryea, the Service has heightened surveillance to pick up, manage, as well as institute necessary control measures should there be an occurrence in the country.

DrLaryea was speaking in an interview with the Ghanaian Times yesterday following reports of the disease outbreak in the Ahanta West municipality of the Western region.

“Initial assessment of the case is not suggestive of monkeypox, but further investigations are ongoing. We have enhanced our surveillance activities and will continue to provide the public with timely update should we confirm any case,” he said.

The Acting Director said it was important the public stuck to hand hygiene practices and the wearing of masks, especially in enclosed places as the mode of transmission of the disease was similar to COVID-19.

“The initial presentation is like most infectious diseases; fever, weakness, chills etc. It is when the skin lesion sets in that people highly suspect monkeypox, but it’s important that when people feel unwell, they self-isolate especially when investigations have not been done to ascertain the cause.

Because the disease can be infectious before people are fully symptomatic, it is important that people avoid direct contact with people once you see these symptoms but the basic principle of washing hands, sanitising etc, is important in reducing transmission,” he advised.

Dr Laryea assured that as far as human resource capacity and infrastructure to detect, manage and control the disease were concerned, the GHS was up to the task.

There were now a total of 131 confirmed cases of monkeypox and a further 106 suspected cases in 19 countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a latest report had revealed.

While the outbreak was unusual, it remained”containable,” the WHO said.

Originating in wild animals such as rodents and primates and occasionally ‘jumping’ to people, monkeypox cases in humans have been endemic in Central and West Africa.

Belonging to the same virus family as smallpox, but causing milder symptoms, the illness was first identified by scientists in 1958 when there were two outbreaks of a “pox-like” disease in research monkeys — thus the name monkeypox.

The first known human infection was in 1970, in a 9-year-old boy in a remote part of Congo.

Most patients only experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue and people with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that could spread to other parts of the body.

The incubation period was from about five days to three weeks although people mostly recovered within about two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalised.

Monkeypox could be fatal for up to one in 10 people and was thought to be more severe in children.

People exposed to the virus were often given one of several smallpox vaccines, which have been shown to be effective against monkeypox while anti-viral drugs were also being developed to control the disease.

Members of the public were advised to report to the nearest hospital when not feeling well and experiencing some skin rashes.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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