Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s commercial capital, confirmed Monday that it had detected the country’s first case of monkeypox. Health authorities didn’t give any details on the patient’s current status.
Monkeypox was declared a global health emergency in July after about 70 countries confirmed viral outbreaks. More than 64,000 infections have been reported since May; at least 22 people have died.
The first monkeypox case in Southeast Asia was found in Singapore in mid-June. Monkeypox can spread to humans when they come into physical contact with an infected animal. Animal hosts include rodents and primates. The risk of catching monkeypox from animals can be reduced by avoiding unprotected contact with wild animals, especially those sick or dead (including their meat and blood).
HCMC Department of Health said it would soon release official information about the case but said the city’s main task is to control the spread of the virus.
“The city has detected one case of monkeypox so far, thanks to good control and supervision of health authorities,” it said in a statement published by state media Vietnamnet. All relevant units have been informed about the situation and would tighten control over entry and movement in the city.
In July, HCMC proposed to reintroduce health declaration policies to all people arriving at Tan Son Nhat Airport. The city wanted entrants to fill out a questionnaire to indicate whether or not the person had had contact with a monkeypox patient in the past 21 days.
WHO epidemiologist Do Hong Hien said at a virtual meeting over the weekend that “it’s only a matter of time” before monkeypox enters Vietnam, especially as traveling in and out of Vietnam has already become “easy and convenient.”
Medical facilities at the border gates have also been activated to monitor people entering through the land borders and immediately detect suspected cases. People entering Vietnam have to go through temperature checks and should report skin rash.
According to WHO guidelines, common monkeypox symptoms include fever, muscle pains, swollen lymph nodes, and skin lesions. The rash usually begins within one to three days of the start of a fever. It tends to concentrate on the face, palms of the hands, and soles. They can also be found in the mouth, genitals, and eyes.
Anyone with close physical contact with someone with monkeypox symptoms or an infected animal is at the highest risk of infection. People vaccinated against smallpox are likely to have some protection against monkeypox infection. Health authorities encourage people to limit their contact with those suspected of monkeypox to prevent getting infected.