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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

HIV/AIDS no longer a death sentence; Drugs help and Proactivity best for sexually active Men

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

November 29, 2022 – Back in 2020 when Covid-19 began to shut down businesses and terror at the unknown virus was high, evidenced in supermarket rows over toilet paper and lockdowns I can remember asking my mother whether she had experienced anything of this scale before.  Her answer? ‘HIV/AIDS.’ Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system.  If HIV is not treated, it can lead to AIDS Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome

“It was terrible, people were just dropping dead, nobody knew what they had or what to do.” she said.

The sexually transmitted disease HIV first started appearing in 1981.  It spread rapidly with deadly, heartbreaking consequences.

That was forty one years ago.  Now, World AIDS day is celebrated each year on December 1st and while HIV/AIDS is considered a treatable and preventable disease, with verifiable reports that some people have even been cured of ‘terminal illness’, millions of people were consumed by the illness before scientists reached the breakthroughs which now allow patients to live productive lives.

Many of those lost to the HIV/AIDS were men and hundreds of thousands still contract the virus each year.

So how can you prevent contracting HIV/AIDS?  The Centres for Disease Control says

  • Abstain from sex
  • If you are sexually active limit your partners
  • Use physical protection (condoms) during sex
  • Don’t share needles

If you have had unprotected sex and think you may be HIV positive or you just want to be protected, you can take HIV prevention medicines such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).  You must start PEP within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV.

For those with a confirmed HIV diagnosis, the FDA says treatment is available.

“Treatment with HIV medicines is called antiretroviral therapy (ART).   ART is recommended for everyone with HIV.  It reduces a person’s viral load to an undetectable level.  Maintaining an undetectable viral load helps a person with HIV live a longer, healthier life.  People with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex.”

Men may shy away from having themselves examined by a doctor, but catching and treating HIV before it becomes AIDS is crucial and greatly lengthens one’s life expectancy.

If you have the virus there are ways to manage it and to keep your loved ones and sexual partners safe.

You can have a relatively normal life.  There is still hope.

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Monkey Pox name to be phased out recommends WHO

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

 

November 29, 2022 – It’s a 52-year-old name which has run its course and in a year will be completely phased out, making way for its new, more politically correct and patient sensitive title: MPox.  The World Health Organization briefed the world of the shift in a media statement on Monday November 29; the renaming process described as “accelerated.”

“When the outbreak of monkeypox expanded earlier this year, racist and stigmatizing language online, in other settings and in some communities was observed and reported to WHO.  In several meetings, public and private, a number of individuals and countries raised concerns and asked WHO to propose a way forward to change the name.”

The World Health Organization has as part of its global health remit, to name or rename illnesses in consultation with its member states; some 45 countries weighed in on this particular change which factored in stigmatization and versatility.

“Various advisory bodies were heard during the consultation process, including experts from the medical and scientific and classification and statistics advisory committees which constituted of representatives from government authorities of 45 different countries.

The issue of the use of the new name in different languages was extensively discussed.  The preferred term mpox can be used in other languages.  If additional naming issues arise, these will be addressed via the same mechanism. Translations are usually discussed in formal collaboration with relevant government authorities and the related scientific societies.”

Although monkeyPox symptoms disappear on their own in a matter of weeks, for some the symptoms have led to medical complications and death.  Immuno-compromised children are listed as particularly vulnerable, so are newborn babies.

“Complications from monkeypox include secondary skin infections, pneumonia, confusion, and eye problems. More recent complications include proctitis (sores and swelling inside the rectum that cause pain) and pain or difficulty when urinating.  In the past, between 1% to 10% of people with monkeypox have died.  It is important to note that death rates in different settings may differ due to a number of factors, such as access to health care.  These figures may be an overestimate because surveillance for monkeypox has generally been limited in the past,” informed the CDCs website.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Direcgtor-General, WHO in considering the advice from health experts specifically recommends:  “Adoption of the new synonym mpox in English for the disease; Mpox will become a preferred term, replacing monkeypox, after a transition period of one year.  This serves to mitigate the concerns raised by experts about confusion caused by a name change in the midst of a global outbreak.  It also gives time to complete the ICD update process and to update WHO publications;  The synonym mpox will be included in the ICD-10 online in the coming days.  It will be a part of the official 2023 release of ICD-11, which is the current global standard for health data, clinical documentation and statistical aggregation. The term “monkeypox” will remain a searchable term in ICD, to match historic information.”

As of November 28, there had been 81,188 cases of mpox recorded worldwide according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Most alarming; over 80,000 of the cases have been recorded in locations not historically known to have monkeypox.  Some 110 countries have now recorded mpox, a staggering 103 of them are newly added to the list of nations where the disease has been detected.

The biggest explosion of cases is recorded in the United States; 29,288 people were confirmed with the disease and 14 people have died as a result of it.

Regionally, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Aruba, Curacao, Barbados, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Bermuda and Guyana have confirmed mpox on their shores.

In the coming days, the new mpox name will be added to the International Classification of Diseases or ICD and will be used in communication from health bodies.  While the label: MonkeyPox will become a relic, it will continue to be used for at least another year.

“WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name,” it said in the statement posted at its website.

 

Photo credit:

Maurizio de Angelis/Science photo libraryMonkeypox virus, illustration. Monkeypox virus particles are composed of a DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) genome surrounded by a protein coat and lipid envelope.

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Health

Worst COVID case count for China, Supply Chain interrupted and protests erupt over ZERO COVID strategy

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By Dana Malcolm
Staff Writer

 

#China, November 25, 2022 – Mainland China is experiencing record levels of Covid-19 even as the government struggles to enforce some of the strictest Covid-19 protocols in the world.  Upwards of 31 thousand cases were recorded on Wednesday, the highest ever according to the National Health Commission of the PRC.  Mainland China does not include Hong Kong or Taiwan.

An inspection of China’s COVID infections from March 2021 straight to February 2022 would look like an almost completely flat line.  There were no major recorded spikes over the 12 month period and case counts hovered largely under 2000 cases per day.  It took the swift spreading omicron to break that streak sending cases as high as 29 thousand in April.  Now this winter outbreak shot past those numbers.

With less than 6,000 deaths the country has been one of the most successful in the world at keeping its citizens alive but many disagree with the strict and often long lasting lockdowns.

Several cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou have tightened COVID restrictions as cases surge.

Violent protests erupted last week in Guangzhou after the city was locked down over less than two thousand Covid-19 cases.  This week protests at an Iphone factory in Zhengzhou erupted once more this time over a pay dispute.

So far officials have not bowed to pressure to lighten the protocols and the economy is suffering, stocks fell steeply on Wednesday.

Supply chain issues have started to rear their heads once more as Apple is already warning that there will be delays in deliveries of their newest Iphone thanks to the Zhengzhou dispute.

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