A TOP United Nations (UN) health expert has raised the red flag on second-hand clothes, particularly those coming from countries currently experiencing monkeypox outbreaks as they could be contaminated with the virus.
As of June 2, 2022, 780 laboratory confirmed cases have been notified to the World Health Organisation (WHO) under the International Health Regulations (IHR) or identified by WHO from official public sources in 27 non-endemic countries in four WHO Regions.
While epidemiological investigations are ongoing, preliminary data from polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays indicate that the monkeypox virus strains detected in Europe and other non-endemic areas belong to the West African clade.
According to WHO, there have been no deaths associated with the current monkeypox outbreak in non-endemic countries.
However, cases and deaths continue to be reported from endemic countries.
Monkeypox endemic countries are: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana (identified in animals only), Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone.
Benin and South Sudan have documented importations in the past.
Countries currently reporting cases of the West African clade are Cameroon and Nigeria.
Speaking during a recent UN media workshop on development reporting in Mutare, health systems strengthening advisor at the WHO-Zimbabwe Office, Dr Stanley Midzi said although there is no need to panic over the emergence of monkeypox, there is a need for citizens to be vigilant.
“While monkeypox is common in Central and West Africa, it is necessary for the public to be vigilant and not let its guard down. Most of the second-hand clothes that come to Zimbabwe are from European countries like the United Kingdom and some from North America, where cases have been recorded,” he said.
Dr Midzi said the current bales that are in the country are highly unlikely to have been contaminated.
“I want to believe that the bales that are already available in Zimbabwe left before 7 May hence we should not worry much, but going forward it might be good to have a temporary ban on second hand clothes that came after 7 May.
We should not allow the importation of second-hand clothes from these sources until this is managed,” he said.
The first case of monkeypox was picked on May 7 in Europe.
Dr Midzi said as a way to further mitigate contracting the disease, those who purchase second-hand clothing must ensure that they thoroughly disinfect them before putting them on.
“Another way the disease can spread is through travellers like business people who go to affected countries and come back home.
Therefore, physically distancing from such persons is encouraged,” he said.
“Once you are infected you have to exhibit symptoms within five to 21 days.
There is no need to panic, as yet as this can be contained, it’s very manageable.”
People usually recover within two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalised, but the disease is occasionally deadly
According to WHO, monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms very similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.
It is caused by the monkeypox virus which belongs to the orthopoxvirus genus of the poxviridae family.
There are two clades of monkeypox virus: the West African clade and the Congo Basin (Central African) clade.
The name monkeypox originates from the initial discovery of the virus in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958.
The first human case was identified in a child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970.
Monkeypox virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.
The incubation period of monkeypox is usually from six to 13 days but can range from five to 21 days.
Various animal species have been identified as susceptible to the monkeypox virus.
Monkeypox is usually self-limiting but may be severe in some individuals such as children, pregnant women or persons with immune suppression due to other health conditions.
Human infections with the West African clade appear to cause less severe disease compared to the Congo Basin clade, with a case fatality rate of 3,6 percent compared to 10,6 percent for the Congo Basin clade. – Chronicle