Bangladesh issues alert at airports as Europe reports monkeypox cases

FILE PHOTO: An electron microscopic (EM) image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virus particles as well as crescents and spherical particles of immature virions, obtained from a clinical human skin sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak in this undated image obtained by Reuters on May 18, 2022. Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery/CDC/Handout via REUTERS
Bangladesh has issued an alert for monkeypox as cases have been found in some European countries.

The Directorate General of Health Services has issued the alert to all airports in Bangladesh to prevent the infection from spreading, said Prof Ahmedul Kabir, additional director general of the DGHS.

“It’s our usual practice to issue an alert at airports whenever a new disease is reported. That’s why we alerted the airports through a letter from the Disease Control Department of the directorate.”

He said any patient identified with the infection will be kept isolated at the infectious disease hospital in Dhaka.

“We’re getting reads as it’s a highly communicable disease. We have prepared the Infectious Disease Hospital in Mohakhali to isolate the patients if any cases are found.”

Monkeypox was initially discovered in monkeys but human cases of the disease have also cropped up in Western and Middle African countries. Previous instances of the disease were only found in Africa.

So far, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, the US, Canada and Australia have reported monkeypox cases.

The World Health Organization said it expects to identify more cases of monkeypox as it expands surveillance in countries where the disease is not typically found.

As of Saturday, 92 confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox were reported from 12 member states that are not endemic for the virus, the UN agency said, adding it will provide further guidance and recommendations in the coming days for countries on how to mitigate the spread of monkeypox.

"Available information suggests that human-to-human transmission is occurring among people in close physical contact with people who are symptomatic", the agency added.

Monkeypox is an infectious disease that is usually mild, and is endemic in parts of west and central Africa. It is spread by close contact, so it can be relatively easily contained through such measures as self-isolation and hygiene.

"What seems to be happening now is that it has got into the population as a sexual form, as a genital form, and is being spread as a sexually transmitted infection, which has amplified its transmission around the world," WHO official David Heymann, an infectious disease specialist, told Reuters.

Heymann said an international committee of experts met via video conference to look at what needed to be studied about the outbreak and communicated to the public, including whether there is any asymptomatic spread, which groups are at most risk, and the various routes of transmission.

He said the meeting was convened "because of the urgency of the situation". The committee is not the group that would suggest declaring a public health emergency of international concern, WHO's highest form of alert, which applies to the COVID-19 pandemic.


[With information from Reuters]