Health officials engaged in contact tracing for second monkeypox patient

This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows oval-shaped mature monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. The World Health Organization said Friday, May 27, 2022 that nearly 200 cases of monkeypox have been reported in more than 20 countries not generally known to have outbreaks of this unusual disease. (Cynthia S Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, file)

Local health authorities have begun tracing contacts of the second person who tested positive for monkeypox in Jamaica.

On Sunday, the Department of Health and Wellness said the person was “a male traveler who recently returned to the island from New York.”

He is now in isolation in a hospital and is in stable condition.

The first confirmed case of monkeypox in Jamaica was reported by the Ministry of Health on July 6.

The male victim had traveled from the UK and presented to the Jamaican public health system on July 5, having arrived on the island about five days earlier.

He was then released from the medical facility where he was being held in solitary confinement in what he told the Jamaica Observer was an effort to join his five-year-old daughter who had traveled to the island with him.

He was later detained and returned to solitary confinement while the Health Ministry stepped up its search for people who may have been in contact with him, including the driver of the car that took him from hospital.

On Saturday, the World Health Organization (WHO) activated its highest level of alert for the growing outbreak of monkeypox, declaring the virus a public health emergency of international concern.

The rare designation means the WHO now considers the outbreak to be a significant enough threat to global health that a coordinated international response is needed to prevent the virus from spreading further and potentially escalating into a pandemic.

Although the declaration does not place demands on national governments, it serves as an urgent call to action.

At the end of last week, the WHO reported 14,000 cases, including five deaths.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Health and Welfare urged Jamaicans to remain vigilant by reinforcing their adherence to infection prevention measures for COVID-19 that are effective in limiting the spread of monkeypox. They include frequent hand washing/sanitizing, mask wearing and physical distancing.

The ministry also recalled that monkeypox can be spread when a person comes into close contact with an infected animal or individual.

“Person-to-person spread can occur through direct contact with skin lesions or scabs of monkeypox; contaminated personal items such as clothing, bedding, or towels used by an infected person; and respiratory droplets through the coughing or sneezing of a person with a monkeypox rash,” the ministry said.

Symptoms of monkeypox are usually mild to moderate and include fever, severe headache, swollen lymph nodes, back pain, muscle pain, and/or skin rash.

The ministry reiterated that people who experience these warning signs should immediately self-isolate and call ahead to their health center or doctor before visiting.

Additional information on monkeypox is available on the ministry’s website www.moh.gov.jm or by contacting the parish health services.