KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 - The Malaysian Ministry of Health (KKM) will use the MySejahtera application to monitor monkey pox from tomorrow, said Khairy Jamaluddin, amid the spread of the rare, fatal infectious disease in several countries.
The health minister said a new feature on the government's Covid-19 mobile application includes alerts for travelers arriving in Malaysia from countries where monkeypox is endemic or where cases have been confirmed.
The warning tells travelers from countries where monkeypox has been detected to monitor themselves for 21 days - the incubation period (time from infection to symptoms) for monkeypox - and to seek immediate medical attention if they develop symptoms.
Symptoms of monkeypox include high fever, swelling in the neck, armpit or groin area, as well as rashes, vesicles (blisters), or pustules (small bumps on the skin that contain fluid or pus) on the body, especially the face, hands, feet, in the mouth , or genitalia.
Warnings will be issued to travelers from Cameroon, Congo, the Central African Republic and Nigeria where monkeypox is endemic, and non-endemic countries such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Khairy said the MySejahtera application will also be used as a home assessment tool (HAT) for patients to update their health status, should Malaysia report cases of monkeypox.
No cases of monkeypox have been detected so far in Malaysia. A child who was allegedly infected with monkeypox was found to be positive for hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), and negative for monkeypox, said Khairy at a virtual media briefing today.
"We will also reactivate backward and forward contact tracing. We are now experts in this because of Covid-19. And if we report a case (monkeypox), we will do monitoring or HAT on MySejahtera. So, MySejahtera will be reactivated for HAT and home surveillance order (HSO) if there is a case or need to contain monkeypox in Malaysia,” said Khairy.
The health minister did not say whether a mandatory 21-day quarantine would be imposed on people confirmed to be infected with monkeypox here.
Malaysia is also preparing to provide antivirals to monkeypox patients as well as vaccines for close contacts and healthcare workers. However, few details have been given about the vaccine that will be used.
"This is a national strategic issue. What I can say is that we have a strategic buffer stock for situations like this," said Khairy, adding that the Ministry of Health will not launch a mass vaccination program against monkeypox.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccination against smallpox has been shown to protect against monkeypox. Several observational studies have found smallpox vaccination to be about 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox, the WHO said.
A newer two-dose vaccine based on a modified attenuated vaccinia virus (Ankara strain) was approved for prevention of monkeypox in 2019, although availability remains limited.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that although there is no specific treatment available for monkeypox infection, the smallpox vaccine, cidofovir, ST-246, and vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) can be used to control monkeypox outbreaks.
Khairy said federal guidelines on monkeypox have been issued to public and private health facilities to manage monkeypox cases.
The government currently uses laboratories at the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) and the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) to process specimens from animals and human patients with suspected monkeypox. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are used to detect infectious diseases.
Khairy said plans are underway to expand laboratory capacity for monkeypox virus testing to include laboratories at Sarawak General Hospital and Langkawi Hospital.
Officials have so far reportedly confirmed 226 cases of monkeypox in 21 countries in the current international outbreak.
Date of Input: 08/06/2022 | Updated: 13/10/2022 | farizaidi
Kolej Tun Dr. Ismail, Universiti Putra Malaysia
Tel: 03 9769 7371