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Ministry of Health Provides an Update on Monkeypox

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#TurksandCaicos, May 23, 2022 – The Ministry of Health and Human Services has been carefully monitoring reports of monkeypox which have been increasing and are being reported in multiple countries across Europe (Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden), the US, Canada and Australia.  12 countries which are not endemic for monkeypox, so far have reported at least 92 confirmed cases with 28 pending investigations.  More cases are likely to be reported as surveillance expands.

Although no cases have been reported in the Caribbean, it is important that persons are aware of the situation as it continues to evolve.

Monkeypox is a viral illness and is found in a number of countries in Central and West Africa.  The more recent news of spread to countries without known endemic disease is unusual.  Cases may occur in persons who have travelled from Nigeria or who have been in contact with persons with the confirmed illness.  Cases which have been reported since May 14 2022, have largely had no history of travel.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced that the total number of monkeypox cases confirmed in England since 6 May is 20.  The UKHSA initially identified one case of monkeypox on 7th May 2022 in an individual with a history of recent travel to Nigeria.  Subsequently, additional infections have been identified, some of which have been linked and others which have been unrelated.  This spread as well as the occurrence of cases in Europe and other countries has suggested the possibility of community spread.   Active investigations are ongoing in countries which have identified cases including contact tracing, testing isolation etc. in order to prevent further spread.

The World Health Organization (WHO), held an emergency meeting on Friday 20th May 2022 to discuss the monkeypox outbreak.  WHO is working with affected countries in order to expand disease surveillance to find and support people who may be affected, and to provide guidance on how to manage the disease.

It is expected that more cases will be identified through surveillance with the possibility of additional countries being affected.

TCI residents returning from, or going to, countries where cases have been identified, are urged to be aware of the signs of infection and to seek medical help if they think they may be at risk.

 How the virus spreads

Monkeypox does not spread easily between people.  The virus spreads through close contact with an infected animal (rodents are believed to be the primary animal reservoir for transmission to humans), humans, or materials contaminated with the virus.  Human-to-human transmission occurs through large respiratory droplets and by direct contact with body fluids or lesion material.  Respiratory droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required.

The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), the respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).

Person-to-person spread is uncommon, but may occur through:

  • contact with clothing or linens (such as bedding or towels) used by an infected person
  • direct contact with monkeypox skin lesions or scabs
  • coughing or sneezing of an individual with a monkeypox rash

Animal-to-human transmission may occur through a bite or scratch, preparation of wild game (in areas where the virus is present in animals such as Central and West Africa), and direct or indirect contact with body fluids or lesion material.

Individuals, particularly those who are gay, bisexual or MSM, are urged to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, and to contact a health services if they have concerns.

Monkeypox has not previously been described as a sexually transmitted infection, though it can be passed on by direct contact during sex. It can also be passed on through other close contact with a person who has monkeypox or contact with clothing or linens used by a person who has monkeypox.

 Symptoms

The incubation period is the duration/time between contact with the infected person and the time that the first symptoms appear. The incubation period for monkeypox is between 5 and 21 days.

Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

Within 1 to 2 days a rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals.

The rash changes and goes through different stages – it can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab which later falls off.

The illness tends to be mild and self-limiting within 2-4 weeks, however it can in some cases be severe particularly in persons with weakened immune systems and children. In some cases, affected persons may die.

 Treatment

Treatment for monkeypox is mainly supportive. The illness is usually mild and most of those infected will recover within a few weeks without treatment.

There is no specific vaccine for monkeypox, however, vaccines used against smallpox can be used for both pre and post exposure and is up to 85% effective in preventing monkeypox. People vaccinated against smallpox in childhood may experience a milder disease.

Anyone with unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, is advised to visit their health care provider, particularly anyone who; 1) traveled to countries where monkeypox cases have been reported 2) reports contact with a person who has a similar rash or received a diagnosis of confirmed or suspected monkeypox, or 3) is a man who has had close or intimate in-person contact with other men in the past month.

As the virus does not usually spread easily between people and the risk to the general public is expected to be low, however the public is advised to monitor the situation as it develops and obtain information from credible sources. The MOH should be notified of any suspected cases.

The Ministry of Health will continue to monitor developments and provide updates accordingly.

Health

Dengue Update Peru – Health Emergency Declared

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#Peru#Dengue, February 28th, 2024 – The Government of Peru in response to the spike in Dengue cases, has declared a health emergency in 20 regions for 90 days. This was announced on February 26th at a press conference, according to a release from the Government. Additionally, to help fight the outbreak, over 160 million Peruvian soles or 42 million US dollars, has been proposed which will be allocated to various health operations.

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Caribbean News

PAHO Calls Americas to Increase Aedes aegypti Mosquito Control

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

#PAHO#Dengue#Americas, February 23rd, 2024 – With nearly seven thousand cases of dengue and 102 deaths reported in the Americas as of early February 2024, the Pan American Health Organization is once again calling for stronger measures to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the main transmitter of dengue. These numbers indicate a 157 percent increase in cases over the same period in 2023.  In the first five weeks of 2024, Peru, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay reported an increase in cases.

 

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Government

Ministry of Health and Human Services in Collaboration with UK Health Security Agency conducts Migrant Health needs Assessment  

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#TurksandCaicos, February 23, 2024 – The Ministry of Health and Human Services has partnered with a team from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) Public Health Programme to conduct a health needs assessment for communities in informal settlements throughout the TCI.  This project was funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and has taken place through a series of consultations and meetings in order to assess health needs and propose recommendations to address gaps in access to health care.

A steering committee supported the preliminary discussions on developing the scope and direction for the assessment and included representation from the TCI from Dr. Dawn O’Sullivan, Dr. Camelia Clarke (Director, Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit), Mrs. Aldora Robinson (Former Director, Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit) and Dr. Nadia Astwood (Chief Medical Officer).

This project culminated in an in-country visit by a team which included: Annabel Grieve (Programme Management Lead), Dr. Amoolya Vusirikala (Public Health Registrar) and Allegra Chatterjee (Epidemiologist) with earlier support provided by Dr. Natalie Wright, Health Protection Lead and Consultant in Global Public Health with the UK Overseas Territories, Global Operations. The visit, which began on January 21st 2024 and concluded this week, saw a number of in-person consultations with key stakeholders across sectors, as well as community focus groups conducted in Providenciales and Grand Turk.

Following the visit, the team paid a courtesy call to the Hon. Minister of Health and Human Services, Shaun D Malcolm and the Executive Team from the Ministry of Health and Human Services, to provide a high level debrief and presentation of the preliminary findings of the assessment. Following further analysis of the findings of the visit, a final report will be submitted to the Ministry of Health and Human Services which will provide a number of conclusions as well as evidence-based recommendations for consideration by the Government.

Commenting on the visit, Hon. Shaun D Malcolm stated that “we welcome this support from UKHSA and FCDO with whom the Ministry of Health has enjoyed a close working relationship and technical support over the years, to formally assess the health needs of this population in order to ensure that the overall health of our population can be addressed in a holistic manner to ensure that universal access to health care is addressed.”

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