Health Ministry on alert for skin rash cases as monkeypox spreads globally


Guyana’s Ministry of Health has advised all medical personnel to immediately report severe skin rashes accompanied by other symptoms, as the world grapples with the outbreak of monkeypox.

A public health advisory, signed by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Narine Singh, was issued to all Regional Health Officers (RHOs), Medical Superintendents, Senior Medical Officers and surveillance units on Saturday.

In that advisory, the Health Ministry noted that an acute skin rash may present with lesions or blisters on the skin. It may also be accompanied by headaches, fevers, myalgia (muscle aches and pains), back pain, asthenia (weakness) and lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes).

Though this advisory referenced an “evolving epidemiological situation globally and in the America’s region”, the Chief Medical Officer told the News Room that it was unrelated to any cases of monkeypox locally.

Test tubes labelled “Monkeypox virus positive” are seen in this illustration (Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters/ May 22, 2022)

“When there’s a global alert, we send that advisory to be on the lookout. It’s not that we got (monkeypox) cases,” Dr. Singh said during a telephone interview on Monday morning.

Later, he emphasised, “Nothing is here as yet or anything, so it’s just for local physicians to keep aware.

“If they see any patients present with (symptoms) we might need to investigate it.”

Monkeypox, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is a virus transmitted to humans from animals with symptoms similar to those experienced by smallpox patients.

Importantly, the WHO noted that the monkeypox virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.

As of this weekend, the WHO noted that there were 92 cases of monkeypox confirmed in non-endemic countries – that is, areas where the virus is not consistently present.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Narine Singh (Photo: News Room/October 08, 2020)

“Vaccination for monkeypox, where available, is being deployed to manage close contacts, such as health workers. WHO is convening experts to discuss recommendations on vaccination,” the WHO said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, in Guyana, if individuals have concerns or suspect that they may be infected with monkeypox, Dr. Singh said they should contact their local health care provider.

That healthcare provider is then tasked with reporting infections to the Health Ministry. Currently, however, there are no new screening arrangements instituted.

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