PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago – There have been no confirmed cases of Monkeypox in the Caribbean thus far, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Dr Joy St John said on Friday.
However, she cautioned that the risk of the spread to the region is likely as travel returns to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.
“It is therefore important that CARPHA Member States raise awareness in frontline health workers and be on the alert for possible importation of cases so they can initiate a quick public health response,” she said.
According to the latest report from the World Health Organization (WHO), the count of confirmed cases of Monkeypox has passed 700 across Europe, Australia, North America, South America, and the Middle East, where the virus is not endemic.
Monkeypox, which was first identified in 1970, is a rare viral zoonotic infection transmitted from animals to humans, that usually does not spread easily between people. It is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox, and vaccination against smallpox has been shown to be protective against Monkeypox.
The disease spreads through close contact and is less clinically severe and infectious than smallpox.
However, CARPHA noted that the current outbreak is of concern in that it is occurring in non-endemic countries.
“CARPHA is monitoring the spread of the disease and the scientific understanding of prevention and control as it evolves over time,” the agency said in a statement on Friday.
“Should Monkeypox be identified in the region, CARPHA will test samples from suspected cases, monitor the spread and provide assistance to its Member States through the creation of tools for investigation and epidemiological monitoring, and personnel are prepared to respond in-country to assist in the investigation and control of a Monkeypox outbreak, should the need arise.”
CARPHA has signed an agreement with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to refer suspected samples from Member States for testing while the agency is in the process of procuring the necessary reagents to be able to implement molecular testing for Monkeypox (PCR). CMC)