The Ministry of Health and Wellness in Belize is monitoring the global developments on the monkeypox front. Thus far, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has indicated it does not believe the virus outbreak outside Africa will lead to a pandemic. Thus far, there have been 300 suspected and confirmed cases of monkeypox in the world, including one reported on Saturday across the border in Mexico. Today, we asked the head of the Ministry’s epidemiology unit, Doctor Russell Manzanero about what Belizeans ought to out know.
Dr.Russell Manzanero, Epidemiologist, Ministry of Health and Wellness: “It is a rare disease. It is not something that is quite common. I mean this is something that was was at first a zoonotic disease which means it passed from an animal to humans in the past. Of course we are seeing these first reported cases in Europe and the UK who reported the first cases in a traveler who was from Africa so we are trying to understand what is happening there as the cases now that are being seen they did not have any travel history or contact with wildlife so the thought is that there is some community spread in those European nations. For us of course the concern is always there, I mean the Caribbean is highly touristic and we have travelers and tourists coming from in from all over so we really need to step up our surveillance and see how we can get that to let our health providers at ports of entry to be aware and to look out for what is there.”
For now, the WHO is considering whether the outbreak should be assessed as a “potential public health emergency of international concern” or PHEIC. Such a declaration, as was done for COVID-19 and Ebola, would help accelerate research and funding to contain the disease. Until then, Doctor Manzanero added, those who have diabetes, cancer or any condition that compromises their immune systems should remain vigilant.
Dr.Russell Manzanero, Epidemiologist, Ministry of Health and Wellness : “The disease itself is pretty much as you’d see with chickenpox so the way how it presents itself is at first in the first few days, the first three or five days perhaps you have a fever, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, back pain so that’s what we see first pretty much after that you might also start seeing swollen lymph nodes around the neck, under your armpits and groin area so that’s what you’re looking for. I mean the characteristic here is actually clinical features so when the provider is actually examining you these are the things that they should be looking out for. Unlike the other like chickenpox and those you won’t see that clinical features so you might find this monkey pox. Of course after a certain time, within a week of having these symptoms you start to see the rash. So the rash starts as a flat rash pretty much like chickenpox then from there it kind of fills up with water some days past you notice that it starts get filled with pus like material and then it starts to dry out and scab and they will see how they start to fall off pretty much it’s the same way you would see monkey pox as well.”