Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a viral disease that is caused by infection with the monkeypox virus (MPX). Monkeypox is typically a self-limiting illness that presents with fever and rash. However, serious complications or death can occur in some individuals.

05 Sep 2022

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Understanding Monkeypox and Global Situation

Monkeypox is a viral disease that is caused by infection with monkeypox virus.

Prior to 2022 outbreak, monkeypox primarily occurs in parts of Central and West Africa, and almost all monkeypox cases in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs or through imported animals.

Since early May 2022, multiple cases of monkeypox were reported in regions outside of Africa. This is the first time that many monkeypox cases and clusters have been reported concurrently in widely disparate geographical areas. On 23 July 22, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing outbreak of monkeypox to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This is in view of the increased in number of countries reporting first case(s) of monkeypox, the disease met the criteria of being an extraordinary event, put other countries at risk, and requires international coordination in response.*

Click here for the latest WHO update on the monkeypox situation.

*Reference: https://www.who.int/news/item/23-07-2022-second-meeting-of-the-international-health-regulations-(2005)-(ihr)-emergency-committee-regarding-the-multi-country-outbreak-of-monkeypox

Local Situation Update

Please refer to the  MOH Weekly Infectious Diseases Bulletin for the numbers of confirmed monkeypox cases in Singapore.

How is Monkeypox transmitted

Monkeypox can spread through exposure to respiratory droplets or direct physical contact with the blood, body fluid or lesion material from infected individual or contaminated materials. The virus can also spread from animals to humans, e.g. through bite or scratch from an infected animal, bush meat preparation, or direct contact with the blood, body fluids, or skin or mucosal lesions of infected animals.

In the current outbreak, available data suggests that the mode of transmission is predominantly via close physical or prolonged contact, such as face to face and skin to skin contact including sexual contact. Most cases have been identified in individuals who reported intimate contact (including sexual contact) with infected people. Cases have also been reported where infection was attributed to household transmission. Regardless of sexual orientation, persons engaging in high risk sexual behaviours, such as having multiple or casual sexual partners are most at risk of infection in the context of the current outbreak.

Food (other than bushmeat) has never been identified as being associated with human cases of Monkeypox. Currently, there is also no evidence that food or food packaging is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus. As such, the risk of Monkeypox transmission through food is low. Please refer to SFA's website [https://www.sfa.gov.sg/monkeypox-and-food-safety] for more information.
 

Symptoms of Monkeypox

Monkeypox is typically a self-limiting and mild illness. However, serious complications or death can occur in vulnerable persons (e.g. pregnant women, young children or immunocompromised individuals).

Symptoms may include:

  • Skin rash often starting from the face before becoming generalized including involvement of palms and soles. However, atypical presentation in this outbreak involves only a few or single localised lesions, especially in the genital and groin areas, which do not spread further.
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • General feeling of exhaustion

Treatment and Prevention

Monkeypox is typically a self-limiting illness and most monkeypox patients usually recover within two to four weeks, although serious illness and complications may occur especially in vulnerable persons (e.g. young children, pregnant women or immunocompromised individuals). Treatment is typically symptomatic and supportive.

The smallpox vaccine is up to 85% effective at preventing monkeypox but has potentially severe side effects. As recommended by the WHO, mass population-wide vaccination with the smallpox vaccine is currently not recommended as a preventive strategy for monkeypox as the benefits do not outweigh the risk.

Precautionary Measures Against Monkeypox

Members of the public are strongly advised to maintain vigilance and take the following precautions:

  • Monitor your health and maintain a high standard of personal hygiene, including frequent hand washing after going to the toilet, or when hands are soiled
  • Avoid contact with persons who are unwell and objects that may have become contaminated with infectious fluids such as soiled clothing, bedding, or towels
  • Avoid high-risk sexual activity, such as having multiple sex partners or casual sex
  • When travelling, avoid contact with wild animals that could harbour the virus, and consumption of bush meat
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you develop symptoms such as sudden onset of high fever, swollen lymph nodes and rash, and inform your doctor of any recent travel history
For Frequently Asked Questions on Monkeypox, click here.