Amidst a recent global outbreak of monkeypox, which is usually only found in Africa, an acclaimed virologist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University is saying Thais should stay calm, or jai yen . Last week, a handful of European countries, the US and Australia, reported their first cases of monkeypox, a viral infection similar to smallpox.
But the virologist, Dr. Yong Poovorowan, wrote on his Facebook page on Friday that monkeypox is nothing new. He said it is similar to chickenpox, but much less severe and transmissible. Dr. Yong said that monkeypox hasn't been found in Thailand since 1970.
Dr. Yong added that it is believed that smallpox vaccines will likely prevent monkeypox, however, he said that this must be studied before it can be confirmed. He noted that surveillance is important, particularly for people travelling from west and central Africa, and those importing animals into the UK. Dr. Yong stressed, however, that Thais should not be worried.
"There's nothing to panic about. The infection requires very close contact."
Last Friday, the UK government announced it would stockpile smallpox vaccines to prevent in an effort to stem any rise in cases of monkeypox, There have been an additional 11 cases of monkeypox detected in the UK, bringing the country's total number of confirmed cases to 20 since early this month.
The UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid says that most cases are mild.
"I can confirm that we have procured further doses of vaccines that are effective against monkeypox."
There is currently no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox. However, smallpox vaccines have been largely proven effective in preventing the virus from spreading. Countries including the UK and Spain are now offering the vaccine to those who have been exposed to infections to help reduce symptoms and limit the spread.
Health authorities in the UK, US and Canada are urging people who experience new rashes or are concerned about monkeypox to contact their health-care provider.
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