St Lucia: The Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs Ministry is monitoring the current situation of monkeypox that has been identified in several countries around the world during the month of May 2022. To date, no case of monkeypox has been diagnosed in St Lucia.
Monkeypox is a rare viral disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It is found mostly in areas of Africa. Monkeypox virus is transmitted when a person comes into contact with the virus from an infected human, animal, or material contaminated with the virus. Human-to-human transmission occurs primarily through large respiratory droplets.
Other human-to-human methods of transmission include direct contact with body fluids or lesion material, and indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated clothing or linens.
After around 7 to 14 days of exposure to the monkeypox virus, people may develop flu-like symptoms, which include fever, headache, muscle ache, back pain, exhaustion and swelling of lymph nodes. Within 1 to 3 days after the appearance of a fever, the patient develops a rash, which often begins on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body. The illness lasts for two (2) to four (4) weeks and can cause death in 1 to 10 percent of people contracting the disease.
Vaccination against smallpox offers some level of cross-protection against monkeypox. The Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs Ministry encourage everyone to be vigilant and seek medical care if they develop fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, or a rash, among others.
Let us continue to practice the public health measures of wearing the mask when in public, frequent washing of hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer to avoid crowded spaces. These measures, reduce your risk of contracting the monkeypox virus. The Ministry of Health will continue to be vigilant for the early detection and management of any case of monkeypox imported to St Lucia.
The Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs Ministry will provide updates on monkeypox as more information becomes available.