Government increases animal smuggling surveillance to halt spread of monkeypox

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The Thai government said on Wednesday that the illegal importation of animals could lead to the spread of monkeypox and that it would increase its monitoring of the animal smuggling trade.

Border protection agencies were instructed to be more vigilant and the screening of arrivals from countries where monkeypox cases have been confirmed has started at international airports.

“Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha warned people about the illegal importation of animals as it could lead to the spread of diseases and he has instructed related agencies to closely monitor the land and sea borders to prevent such activities which could lead to the spread of monkeypox,” said government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana.

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that the outbreak of monkeypox outside Africa is containable because of the availability of vaccines and treatments. It added that governments around the world are already putting up containment measures.

It said more than 200 cases of the disease has been confirmed in 18 countries outside Africa including countries in Europe, the Americas and Australia and the number is expected to increase but scientists do not believe that the disease would evolve into a pandemic.  

The WHO said smallpox vaccines can provide protection against monkeypox and new vaccines are being developed against the virus.

However, Thailand’s Department of Disease Control (DDC) said this week that the country does not have a reserve of the smallpox vaccine and the ministry of health is currently trying to secure them.

No case of monkeypox has been discovered in Thailand so far.

The Department of Medical Sciences (DMSc) said this week that Thailand has the capability to detect the virus and the DDC has set up a Public Health Crisis Command Centre to monitor the outbreak situation.

All travellers with fever and blisters are being advised to immediately seek medical attention while travellers from 18 countries where the disease has been confirmed will be closely monitored for monkeypox.

Hospitals along with skin disease and sexually transmitted disease clinics were also instructed to take samples from travellers with a suspected infection and send them to DMSc.

The WHO said is monkeypox’s symptoms are similar to those seen in smallpox patients but it is less severe and symptoms could last from two to four weeks.

The virus is transmitted via close contact with an infected person or animal with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets or close contact with material contaminated with the virus such as bedding.

Common symptoms of monkeypox include fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes.

For misinformation, Thanakorn people should avoid fake news about the disease such as taking Covid vaccines could lead to monkeypox infection which is simply not true.

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