Taiwan steps up monitoring of monkeypox amid recent outbreak overseas: CDC

05/21/2022 09:44 PM
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Passengers go through a checkpoint set up by the health authorities after arriving at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. CNA file photo
Passengers go through a checkpoint set up by the health authorities after arriving at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. CNA file photo

Taipei, May 21 (CNA) Taiwan is stepping up its monitoring of monkeypox, a rare viral disease that has caused a reported 87 infections in 11 countries over the past three weeks, the country's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Saturday.

Taiwan has yet to report a case of monkeypox, which usually occurs in forested parts of central and western Africa, and no monkeypox cases have been detected in countries near Taiwan, except for Australia, which has reported one imported case, said CDC deputy head Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞).

But its spread to Western countries such as the United Kingdom, Spain and the United States has sounded the alarm, Lo said, and local doctors have been asked to be on the lookout for monkeypox, which they can report the same way they would report smallpox.

Since monkeypox has an incubation period of 5-21 days, the current seven-day COVID-19 home quarantine measure applied to inbound travelers could help Taiwan detect the disease and keep it at bay if it were brought in, Lo said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), monkeypox typically presents clinically with fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to a range of medical complications.

"The recent outbreaks reported across 11 countries so far are atypical, as they are occurring in non-endemic countries," the WHO warned in a statement.

Monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease with the symptoms lasting from two to four weeks, but severe cases can occur, the WHO said, adding that in recent times, the case fatality ratio has been around 3-6 percent.

The disease is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus, according to the WHO.

Monkeypox virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding, it said.

The clinical presentation of monkeypox resembles that of smallpox, a related orthopoxvirus infection which was declared eradicated worldwide in 1980.

However, monkeypox is less contagious than smallpox and causes less severe illness, according to the WHO.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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