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Is Pakistan ready for Monkeypox threat?

SHAFAQNA PAKISTAN- Earlier this week, Pakistan reported yet another case of monkeypox, the second of its kind in three days. While it is encouraging that there have been no reports of local transmission just yet, the growing incidence of the virus suggests that health authorities must act preemptively to prevent further infections.

Monkeypox was first discovered in 1950 and the first human case detected in 1970. Since then, it has periodically caused small outbreaks although until recently, these were limited to the African continent.

But it is possible that the virus has evolved to become more transmissible in this recent outbreak-researchers have already noted several mutations and believe that transmission is possible through close skin-to-contact with an infected person.

Last year, when Britain threw up the highest number of cases in the world, WHO had rolled out a detailed list of symptoms — skin rash, lesions, swollen lymph nodes, fever and others — stating that mpox is spread through contact with infected humans, animals and surfaces and the smallpox vaccine can be used as a protective measure.

In August, the organisation reported over 18,000 cases from as many as 78 countries, and another 23 cases were recorded in India in December. Disregarding the contagious nature of mpox, Pakistan’s preventive actions have been inconsequential. An outbreak can be averted with informed communities and health personnel so that hazards are confronted capably.

Consequently, task forces at airports to halt transmission and an overseeing body to screen vulnerable groups — health workers, the young and the poor — isolation and diagnostic facilities, are ample moves to keep safe. Although the virus does not present mass fatal danger as it passes away of itself in two to four weeks, the WHO did flag its fatality with 3,413 deaths recorded till July.

Therefore, free provision of smallpox vaccination is an almost fail-safe move as it is 85pc effective in pre- and post-exposure to the infection. Far-reaching deterrents are necessary for children, those with poor health and complications and to save large swathes of the population from a painful, epizootic condition.

Meanwhile As a developing country recovering from the COVID-19 inflicted economic reparations, Pakistan cannot afford to bear the burden of an endemic. Raising awareness among healthcare providers and the general population, implementing strict surveillance measures and timely contact tracing (in case of a viral outbreak) are the best preventative measures to effectively prevent or manage a potential Monkeypox outbreak in the country.

Source: Shafaqna Pakistan

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