Medical groups try to assuage growing public fears over monkeypox
Five groups of medical professionals have allayed growing public fears about monkeypox, saying there is only a slim chance of an outbreak in Thailand, and mass vaccinations are unnecessary.
The Royal College of Physicians of Thailand, Royal College of Paediatricians of Thailand, Infectious Disease Association of Thailand, Paediatric Infectious Disease Society of Thailand, and Preventive Medicine Association of Thailand jointly issued a nine-point statement about monkeypox on Wednesday.
The joint statement, signed by the respective chiefs of the five medical groups, said that outbreaks of the communicable disease in many countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, had led to fears of a pandemic similar to Covid-19.
However, the medical groups explained that outbreaks overseas are still limited and there is no need to ban travellers from the affected countries. The groups advised avoiding close contact with travellers from overseas, particularly those with symptoms of the disease.
“Wearing face masks when in close contact with the patients and washing hands after touching them can help reduce the chance of contracting the disease,” the statement said.
It explained that monkeypox is caused by a virus from rodents first found in Africa. The disease’s first infection was reported in monkeys used for experiment, which is the origin of the name “monkeypox”.
“Monkeys are not the disease's reservoir. Also, there have been no reports of this disease being found in rodents in Thailand,” the statement said.
The groups also noted that smallpox vaccines can prevent monkeypox.
The statement said that Thailand had stopped smallpox vaccinations almost 50 years ago, so Thais aged over 50 should be immune to monkeypox because they have already received smallpox vaccines. But younger people have no immunity to either smallpox or monkeypox, it added.
“However, there is only a small chance of a monkeypox outbreak in Thailand, so there is no need for the public to get vaccinated soon,” the statement said.