How prepared is Bangladesh to deal with monkeypox?

monkepox virus
Photo: Reuters

Around 80 monkeypox cases have been detected in 11 countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning that more cases may be detected. It said it was still trying to learn more about 50 other suspected monkeypox cases without naming any countries.

According to Reuters, monkeypox cases have been detected in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, and Australia. Monkeypox is most common in central and west Africa.

No monkeypox cases have been identified in any Asian country yet.

The Daily Star spoke with Prof Dr Nazrul Islam, former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) and member of the Ministry of Health's National Technical Advisory Committee on coronavirus; Prof Dr ABM Abdullah, prime minister's personal physician; and Dr Mushtaq Hossain, advisor, Institute of Pathology, Disease Control and Research at IEDCR, to find out what kind of preparation Bangladesh needs to tackle monkeypox.

The health experts focused on generating public awareness about the monkeypox virus. They also advised going to the hospital if any symptoms are present. Hospitals were asked to collect patient samples and send them to the IEDCR. People coming to Bangladesh were advised to have health checkups at the airport.

Dr Nazrul Islam said, "No special warning has been issued for monkeypox in Bangladesh yet. Our government is yet to make a statement about the virus. Monkeypox enters the body through the nose. To protect yourself from the virus, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. The same rules apply for both coronavirus and monkeypox. At airports, anyone showing signs of monkeypox should be quarantined for at least 14 days."

Despite the fact that there is no specific treatment for monkeypox, health experts around the world claim that the smallpox vaccine is 85 percent effective in preventing the disease.

When asked if our country has smallpox vaccine, Dr Nazrul Islam replied, "There is no smallpox vaccine in Bangladesh. Smallpox is no longer a threat. As a result, there is no vaccine. However, there were 12 research labs in various countries around the world. I'm not sure how many there are right now."

Dr ABM Abdullah said, "It takes 2-4 weeks to recover from monkeypox. People arriving in Bangladesh, particularly those from Africa, must be cautious in order to prevent the virus from spreading. Monkeypox is still being studied. As a result, nothing can be said in great detail. Everyone, however, should be aware."

Dr Mushtaq Hossain said, "Necessary steps must be taken to determine whether the virus has entered Bangladesh or not. The IEDCR or the Directorate General of Health Services must be notified if any chickenpox patients are identified. There's no need to be concerned. However, we must remain vigilant."

"The monkeypox virus is found in a variety of animals," he explained. "The country's livestock scientists must conduct extensive research on this. Human patients need to be examined by the IEDCR, while animals should be examined by the Department of Livestock. People can be made aware of it quickly if we can detect it early."

"In the past, people who hunted animals or worked in zoos contracted monkeypox," he said when asked if a special initiative was needed. "It is now spreading again among humans. So, caution is necessary."

"At our airports, thermal scanners measure body temperature. As a result, there is no need for anything extra just yet. A person with a skin rash should be admitted to the hospital. If it spreads widely, airports will need to take separate measures," he added.

Translated by Tanjeel Rezwan


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