Singapore – On May 9, 2019 (Thursday), the Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed that Singapore has one imported case of monkeypox.
The patient infected with the rare condition arrived alone in Singapore on April 28 to attend a workshop.
Two days later, the 38-year-old Nigerian fell ill to a fever, muscle aches, chills, and skin rash. However, he stayed in his room at Hotel 81 in Geylang the following week from May 1 to 7.
The man was sent to Tan Tock Seng Hospital on May 7and was then directed to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). He tested positive for monkeypox on May 8, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) through a media release on May 9.
The patient is currently in an isolation ward at NCID and is in a stable condition.
“The patient reported that prior to his arrival in Singapore, he had attended a wedding in Nigeria, where he may have consumed bush meat, which could be a source of transmission of monkeypox virus,” said MOH via a CNA report.
The virus is a rare disease that is transmitted to humans from animals mostly those from central and western Africa. The possibility of acquiring monkeypox is heightened when a person comes into close contact with an infected animal such as rodents.
Monkeypox can be transmitted from one human to another through close contact with their infected respiratory tract secretions, the skin lesions or objects contaminated by the patient’s fluids.
MOH conducted a tracing with people the patient had come into close contact with and identified 23 individuals in total. Out of the 23, 18 were attendees of the same workshop, one was a staff member of the venue, and four were hotel employees.
“Close contacts of the patient have been assessed by NCID and offered vaccination, which can prevent the disease or reduce the severity of symptoms,” noted MOH.
“As a precautionary measure, they will be quarantined and monitored for 21 days from their date of exposure to the patient,” although none from the list of individuals showed any symptoms of the virus, said MOH.
Symptoms include fevers, aches, swollen lymph nodes, and a skin rash. Monkeypox can cause serious complication such as pneumonia and in some cases, death.
According to MOH and executive director of NCID Professor Leo Yee Sin, this is not the first case of the virus in Singapore although the risk of the infection spreading within the island-nation is quite low.
“There is no evidence to date that human-to-human transmission alone can sustain monkeypox infections in the human population,” said Professor Leo.
“On average, each infected person transmits the infection to less than one other person. This is much less infectious than the common flu. The chain of transmission can also be broken through contact tracing and quarantine of close contacts,” he added.
The virus usually is self-limiting with most infected individuals recovering after two to three weeks, said MOH.
For precautionary purposes, MOH has informed the public health authority in Nigeria.-/TISG