PH detects first monkeypox case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 29) — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday confirmed that the country has recorded its first case of monkeypox.

In a Palace briefing, Health Undersecretary Beverly Ho said the patient is a 31-year-old Filipino who arrived from abroad on July 19. The patient had prior travel to countries with documented monkeypox cases.

Ho, who is also the DOH alternate spokesperson, said the person tested positive for the disease after undergoing RT-PCR test. She added that the patient is undergoing strict isolation and monitoring at home.

The department did not disclose the gender, travel history, and residence of the confirmed monkeypox case.

The DOH added it has identified 10 close contacts, including three from the same household. But Ho said the close contacts are not exhibiting any symptoms and are being monitored.

Monkeypox was earlier declared by the World Health Organization as a public health emergency of international concern.

Monkeypox is a less severe cousin of smallpox that originated from animals and can be transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected individual such as through body fluids, sores or contaminated items, health authorities said.

The WHO earlier noted that most of the monkeypox cases are among men who had sex with other men. However, monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted disease.

"Based on what we know about monkeypox, there is a very clear need to be more careful on who we interact with, particularly sexual intimate contact," Ho said.

"So I think what is clear to us is we are working closely with those population groups so that they will have better preparation, risk perception that this is a disease that will concern them more than the general population," she added.

Symptoms of monkeypox - which the DOH said are mild - include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and rashes that can turn into lesions. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said lesions can resolve over a period of two to three weeks.

READ: What is monkeypox, its symptoms and threat to you?

According to the department, monkeypox patients and their close contacts should isolate 14 to 21 days after the onset of symptoms.

It added the disease is "rarely fatal."

"Recent figures place the case count worldwide at around 22,000, with 10 deaths, giving a CFR (case fatality rate) of around 5 deaths out of every 10,000 cases," the DOH said in a statement on Saturday.

"Please note that DOH may have advanced access to figures not yet published on the WHO dashboard, hence our global counts data may be higher than the posted number," the department also told reporters.

The DOH said these recent numbers from WHO are different from historic data from the same organization which point to a CFR of 360 deaths per 10,000 cases for the West African clade or group of monkeypox, and 1,000 deaths per 10,000 cases for the Congo Basin clade of the disease.

It said past cases - which were the basis for WHO's historic data - are smaller than the number of infections reported today worldwide.

The department earlier said the US Food and Drug administration has certified the use of smallpox vaccine against monkeypox, but that "stocks are very limited to just specific countries."