No reason to panic, says Ministry of Health as first monkeypox case detected in SL | Print edition


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By Kumudini Hettiarachchi

Don’t panic is the message experts are insisting as the Ministry of Health has announced that the first case of monkeypox has been detected in Sri Lanka.

The first person detected with monkeypox is a 19-year-old who had returned from abroad on November 1. contagion Thursday.

“Monkey pox is usually spread from person to person through ‘close contact,'” said Dr Geethani Galagoda, consultant virologist and chair of the Sri Lanka Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Forum.

It is a self-limiting viral disease. The infection lasts for some time – a few weeks. The incubation period (the time between the virus entering a person’s body and the appearance of symptoms) is about 3 to 17 days and the disease lasts about 2 to 4 weeks, we learn.

Dr Galagoda said that in the early stages of infection, a patient can transmit the disease through large respiratory droplets from the nose and mouth, exhaled when sneezing or coughing, to someone nearby. The other way it is spread is through contact with the infected person’s skin lesions.

“This viral disease can also be sexually transmitted, may be the result of close contact,” she said.

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:



Swollen lymph nodes

Skin lesions (a patch of skin that looks abnormal compared to the skin around it)


Muscle pain and back pain


Respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough

Explaining that the disease is generally not dangerous, Dr Galagoda says the very young and very old and those with reduced immunity (who are immunocompromised such as diabetics) might be more vulnerable.

Sexual health and HIV consultant Dr. Geethani Samaraweera of the National STD/AIDS Campaign also pointed out that monkeypox is transmitted through “very close contact”.

She said that as the monkeypox infection progresses in a person and begins to manifest as a rash, contact with the blisters would spread the disease to others.

The blisters or vesicles are thin-walled sacs filled with fluid, usually clear like that one gets when affected by chickenpox.

“These skin lesions that can occur all over the body as well as around the genitals are contagious until fully healed. Even the scabs that form on the blisters remain contagious,” Dr. Samaraweera said.

She said close contact with skin blisters and objects such as clothing, bedding and towels that may have been contaminated by an infected person should be avoided. If anyone suspects they have monkeypox, they should seek medical advice or go to a dermatology clinic or an STD/AIDS clinic in a public hospital.

Dispelling the misconception that only people with sexually transmitted diseases go to STD/AIDS clinics in public hospitals, Dr. Samaraweera added that while these clinics treat people with venereal diseases transmitted through sexual activity, anyone having a problem with genitals can walk for advice and treatment.

In August, the Sunday Times reported that the virology department of the Institute for Medical Research (IRM) received RT-PCR kits for the detection of monkeypox.

The two types of RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) kits that MRI received had been developed by the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology in Pune, India. On July 23 this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern (USPPI).

Even though the world has known the monkeypox virus for more than 50 years with infections detected mainly in West and Central Africa and very few other countries, this year (2022) many cases have been and are being detected in a large number of countries. .

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