Low risk of monkeypox outbreak in Thailand, says top virologist

MONDAY, JUNE 06, 2022

Monkeypox is not that easy to contract and there is a low possibility of the virus sparking an outbreak in Thailand, leading virologist Dr Yong Poovorawan said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

He added that since the disease resurfaced in May, only some 600 people in nearly 30 countries have been infected. Most or 98 per cent of the patients outside Africa are men, while the ratio of male monkeypox patients in Africa is about two thirds.

“The age range of patients outside Africa is 20-50, while in Africa monkeypox has also infected children,” Yong said. “Monkeypox is spreading rapidly outside Africa, in places like Spain, Portugal, the UK and Belgium, due to cultural celebrations that promote close contact between people.

“From the current infection rate, it is possible that monkeypox will be found in Thailand. However, it will likely spread among a small group of people who are at risk,” he said.

The virologist said care must be taken to ensure the virus is not contracted by pets. “If the virus is transmitted from humans to pets, these animals can become carriers and spread to other local species like rats, rabbits and squirrels. Then monkeypox will become endemic in that area,” Yong said.

The Disease Control Department (DDC) said last week that there have been no confirmed monkeypox cases in Thailand so far. However, DDC put 12 people under close observation after they came into contact with a confirmed monkeypox patient who had boarded a transit flight from Bangkok.

Dr Chakkarat Pitayawonganon, director of the department's epidemiology division, said the situation is not worrying because they are low-risk contacts, adding that they will be monitored for 21 days.