Smallpox jabs effective against monkeypox, says expert
Many countries have been administering smallpox vaccines to contain the spread of monkeypox, Dr Thiravat Hemachudha, chief of Chulalongkorn University's Information Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases, said on Monday.
He explained that monkeypox had not emerged in the past because many people had received their smallpox vaccine, which provides 85 per cent immunity against the disease.
“However, smallpox inoculations were halted after smallpox was eliminated in 1980,” he said, adding that people born before 1980 may have immunity against monkeypox.
However, he expects herd immunity against the virus to drop as people’s immunity deteriorates as they get older.
Thiravat said monkeypox will possibly spread faster than the previous spread of less than 1 per cent.
He also said that people can be infected with monkeypox and chickenpox at the same time, adding that it is difficult to diagnose as its rashes are like those of chickenpox, shingles and herpes. Also, rashes often appear in unexposed areas of the body, he said.
Monkeypox is now a point of interest among Thais after 12 people came in close contact with a confirmed monkeypox patient who took a transit flight from Thailand on Monday.
Health officials have been monitoring the 12 persons, who were cabin crew and passengers on the same flight, though they remain asymptomatic. They will be closely watched for 21 days, the disease incubation period. No monkeypox cases have been confirmed in Thailand, so far.
Elsewhere, there have been 406 confirmed monkeypox cases and 88 suspected cases in 32 countries. The five countries outside Africa with the highest number of monkeypox cases are the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Canada.