Health authorities in Barbados said on Thursday there was active surveillance for monkeypox at ports of entry.
The Ministry of Health & Wellness said in an official statement that though there have been no confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox in the island to date, they will continue to maintain a state of vigilance in response to the ongoing multi-country outbreak of the disease.
“The Ministry of Health & Wellness will continue its active surveillance and the sensitisation of port health personnel on the management of the monkeypox virus,” the statement read. “The Ministry will also keep the public informed of any public health developments of concern.”
There is a heightened state of alert in the island after the Jamaica government announced on Wednesday that it had seen its first case of the virus.
Monkeypox is a disease of global health importance that primarily occurs near the tropical rain forests of Central and West Africa with the primary hosts being rodents and non-human primates such as monkeys.
This current outbreak, the Ministry of Health & Wellness noted, is being identified in non-endemic areas, and it is being spread from human-to-human with the majority of the cases in Europe.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently described the outbreak as distributed over five main regions, including Europe, America, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Western Pacific, and Africa.
Health authorities said humans can contract the virus by direct contact with an infectious rash, scab, or body fluids of an infected individual or animal.
Human-to-human transmission can occur as a result of prolonged face-to-face, intimate, physical contact, or touching items that have previously been handled by an infected individual.
The Ministry of Health & Wellness said development of symptoms can occur up to 21 days after contact with a case.
The virus classically began with flu-like symptoms (fever and body aches), with swelling of the lymph nodes and progression to a widespread rash on the face and body. The red bumps eventually turn into pus-filled blisters that crust over.
The health authorities said this classic progression may not hold in the current outbreak, as cases have presented with a rash on only one area of the body, and illness can last for approximately two to four weeks.
There are no specific treatments for the monkeypox virus, however, medications can be used to manage the symptoms.