Monkeypox: Guyana working to acquire vaccines, medicines

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Following the detection of the country’s first case of monkeypox on Monday, health authorities are working to acquire treatment regimens as well as vaccines to combat the disease.

Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony explained that the vaccines that protect against monkeypox are in limited quantity globally. However, through an agreement with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Guyana should receive some of these vaccines by the end of September.

“We have placed an order with PAHO and we are expecting that we would get some of those vaccines by the end of September, so persons who have been exposed to anyone with monkeypox can get vaccinated.”

“The supply of these vaccines is very limited and it’s a very scarce commodity right now in the world, nevertheless we are trying to get some doses into Guyana,” he said.

Moreover, the Health Minister noted that medication is available to treat the monkeypox infection but this is also in scarce supply. Nevertheless, he said Guyana is working to acquire these medications.

“There are very few medications that are currently available to treat the virus per say. Right now, they are working on three different antiretroviral, they are in limited supplies in the United States and they are being used under emergency use authorisation.”

“So, the medications that are currently used to the suppress the virus is not readily available but once it becomes available, we will ensure that we have some of it available to patients here in Guyana, but right now we can’t get access to it,” the Minister explained.

As it stands, patients with monkeypox are treated based on their symptoms.

“The treatment for these persons when they get infected would be symptomatic, therefore, if they have fever, we’ll treat fever, if they have an enlarged lymph node, we’ll treat that,” the Minister noted, noting that most patients recover within 14-21 days.

“Most people who get infected, within 21 days, they would be fine. There are very, very few examples where they can develop some complications and that is because of secondary bacterial infection, so on top of the monkeypox, they might get another bacteria invading the lesions that they have and creating an additional disease, so we have to mindful of that when treating patients with monkeypox,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Minister highlighted that there are various ways in which the virus can be transmitted directly or indirectly.

“Basically, monkeypox is transmitted from animals to humans, so if there is an infected animal and a person comes in contact with them, they can get infected, so that’s the first form of transmission.

“And then you can have human to human contact, so that’s the second major form of transmission. In terms of the human-to-human contact, that can be done in two ways; one what we may call a direct contact meaning if you are in close proximity with someone who has been infected then you can get the virus. If [you are caring] for somebody who is infected, touching the lesions, cleaning the lesions, not using protective gear, then you can get infected.”

“Then you have indirect contact, because they have found that monkeypox can be on surfaces so if somebody who has monkeypox in a ward, for example, and you go and you don’t have on gloves and you touch surfaces, the chances are, you can come in contact with the virus,” he further explained.

A 57-year-old man from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) is the country’s first monkeypox patient. He is currently at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Lilliendaal, Greater Georgetown.