Monkeypox outbreak: South Korea, Singapore confirms first cases

The case in Singapore involves a British man who was in the city-state between 15 and 17 June. He tested positive for monkey pox on Monday after developing a skin rash and experiencing headaches and fever last week.

“During this period, he had mostly been in his hotel room apart from visiting a massage parlor and eating at three food companies on June 16,” the Singapore Department of Health said on Tuesday.

Thirteen of the man’s close contacts have been identified and contact tracing is underway, the ministry states, and adds that the man is being treated at the National Center for Infectious Diseases.

The case in South Korea involves a South Korean citizen who reported to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency after returning to the country from Germany on Wednesday. The KCDA said the South Korean – who is now being treated at a Seoul facility – had reported having a headache before flying and had developed a fever, sore throat, fatigue and skin lesions on arrival in the country.

Meanwhile, South Korea said it was also investigating another suspect case involving a foreigner who entered the country on Monday and was taken to a hospital in the city of Busan after experiencing symptoms and developing a blister on the skin.

Quiet spread of monkey cups can be a wake-up call for the world

Monkeypox, considered a less serious cousin of smallpox, has an incubation period of seven to 14 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The first symptoms are typically flu-like, such as fever, chills, fatigue, headaches and muscle weakness, followed by swelling in the lymph nodes, which help the body fight infections and diseases.

The disease later develops into rashes and lesions that can form blisters and crusts all over the body – usually lasting two to four weeks.

The virus has been circulating for decades in some places, including parts of West and Central Africa.

But the current outbreak has seen more than 2,500 cases reported in dozens of countries where the disease was not considered endemic – including Australia, which reported its first case on May 20, and the United States, where the CDC on Friday reported more than 110 confirmed cases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently said it would remove the distinction between endemic and non-endemic nations to reflect a “unified response.”

“The unexpected appearance of monkey pox in several regions in the first absence of epidemiological links to areas that have historically reported monkey pox, suggests that there may have been undetected transmission for some time,” the WHO said in a recent update.
A microscope image of mature, oval monkey cup virions, left and spherical immature virions, right, taken from a sample of human skin.

Lessons from Covid-19

Singapore last discovered a case of monkey pox in 2019, in a 38-year-old man from Nigeria who had traveled to the city-state to attend a wedding.

“Monkeypox is not a new disease, so we actually know quite a bit about the disease and the virus [which] has been around for a while, “said Khoo Yoong Khean, a physician and scientific officer at the Duke-NUS Center for Outbreak Preparedness in Singapore.

“But there is a change in how the disease circulates and spreads in this current outbreak … [and] this seems to be an evolving situation. ”

Khoo said lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic could be applied to any potential monkey cup outbreak in the region.

The United States has rolled out 1,200 smallpox vaccines in response to the outbreak

“It would be wise for countries to pay attention. We have many tools that we have used for Covid-19 and they will be useful now: contract tracking methods, quarantine protocols and even a mass immunization strategy if necessary.

“Although I do not think we need to be too worried about the global situation, and we may now be in a better place, disease outbreaks are never predictable as we know. We may get surprises from monkey cups in the near future, so we must continue to strengthen our health and surveillance systems, cooperate with other countries and make better decisions than [we did] during the Covid pandemic. “