T&T MOH on high alert for Monkeypox outbreak | Loop Barbados

The content originally appeared on: Barbados News

The Ministry of Health in Trinidad and Tobago is actively pursuing several measures including the possibility of vaccines to fight against the Monkeypox outbreak.

Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) said the recent monkeypox outbreaks are unusual because they occur in countries where the virus is not endemic. Monkeypox is spread through close contact -it usually begins with flu-like symptoms and then progresses to body rashes.

According to WHO, more cases will likely be reported in the coming days as surveillance expands.

However, according to T&T Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh during this morning’s sitting of the House of Representatives, discussions are ongoing with several stakeholders to bar the effect on citizens when the virus reaches our shores.

Minister Deyalsingh explained that on Friday he convened a meeting with MOH officials including representatives from PAHO and CARPHA. Following this meeting, several steps have been initiated including a press release to members of the public on what signs and symptoms they should be on the lookout for and when to seek medical assistance.

He said the Port Health agencies have also been placed on high alert for screenings and that Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram has also written to the various Regional Health Authorities advising of treatments and diagnosis for suspected cases of the outbreak.

“We are also working very proactively with CARPHA to ramp up regional testing not only for T&T but Caricom countries as well. I also had discussions with the University of the West Indies to ramp up genomic sequencing capacity so we will know which virus we are dealing with,” Deyalsingh said.

The Health Minister said further to, his ministry is proactively reaching out to their international and regional partners to acquire the vaccine Jynneos-

“The vaccination strategy at this point at this time- if we get the vaccine- is not a national vaccination drive like COVID-19,” he said.

An outbreak of the virus has been ongoing since May 6, beginning with a British resident who, after traveling to Nigeria, presented symptoms consistent with monkeypox on 29 April 2022. The resident returned to the United Kingdom on 4 May, creating the country’s index case of the outbreak. It has since spread to several other territories.

According to the WHO’s website, there are several vaccines available for the prevention of smallpox that also provide some protection against monkeypox.

A newer vaccine that was developed for smallpox (MVA-BN – also known as Imvamune, Imvanex or Jynneos) was approved in 2019 for use in preventing monkeypox and is not yet widely available. It said WHO is working with the manufacturer to improve access and that people who have been vaccinated against smallpox in the past will also have some protection against monkeypox.