After reports of monkeypox cases were discovered in several countries worldwide, a top virologist has confirmed no such cases had been detected in Thailand.
Dr. Yong Poovorawan, head of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University, reported yesterday that there are no known cases of monkeypox in Thailand.
His remarks come amid an array of fears over the possible spread of the rare disease in Thailand. This week, these fears follow reports of confirmed and suspected cases in the UK, Canada, Spain, and Portugal.
Dr. Yong said monkeypox is not a newly discovered disease, and there is a vaccine for it.
Unlike the transmission of smallpox, which is airborne through droplets, monkeypox is transmitted when a person comes into contact with the virus through contaminated body fluids or wounds.
However, since rodents carry the virus and infected patients in other countries usually had a history of being in direct contact with some animals, the doctor said he has advised against allowing exotic pets from overseas into the country.
He said that no monkeypox virus had been detected in monkeys in Thailand before.
The most effective way to protect oneself from the virus is almost the same as preventing the spread of Covid-19, the doctor explained, adding that handwashing and personal hygiene were necessary.
Anan Jongkaewwattana, a virologist with National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotec), said a new challenge now facing virologists worldwide is that infected people can spread it while not showing any symptoms.
He said that the recent detection of seven cases in the UK had sparked concerns in other parts of the world.
What is Monkeypox?
According to the World Health Organization, the monkeypox virus is a viral zoonosis (a disease transmitted to humans by animals) with symptoms similar to smallpox, but it is less severe clinically.
Smallpox was eradicated in 1980, and smallpox vaccination was discontinued, resulting in monkeypox becoming the most important orthopoxvirus for public health.
Most cases occur in Central and West Africa, often close to tropical rainforests, and increase in urban areas. There are a variety of rodents and non-human primates that serve as hosts.