Beautiful Virgin Islands

Monday, Jul 04, 2022

Low likelihood of monkeypox spread to VI but situation being monitored– Hon Penn

Low likelihood of monkeypox spread to VI but situation being monitored– Hon Penn

Minister for Health and Social Development under the Unity Government, Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8), has indicated that although the likelihood of monkeypox spread in the VI community is currently low, the Chief Medical Officer and other officials will continue to monitor the situation.

This comes as Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has issued travel warnings and, according to Hon Penn, local health officials in the territory will work towards being prepared to detect and respond to any cases as needed, and will keep the community informed of any change in the situation.

Speaking yesterday, May 26, 2022, during a House of Assembly Sitting, Hon Penn said Monkeypox is similar to smallpox and smallpox vaccine offers some protection.

“However, smallpox vaccine is not widely available and is no longer on the immunization schedule. Any guidance will be provided by PAHO/WHO on the matter, as necessary.”

He added that testing for monkeypox is currently not available in the Caribbean and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is reportedly in discussion with PAHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assess its capacity to develop this testing capability.

“In due course, it is expected that CARPHA will inform member states when the capability is available and how samples will be handled,” he revealed.

Speaking yesterday, May 26, 2022, during a House of Assembly Sitting, Hon Marlon A. Penn said Monkeypox is similar to smallpox and smallpox vaccine offers some protection, however, the vaccine is not widely available.


Local response led by Ministry of Health


In terms of local response, Hon Penn said the Ministry of Health will coordinate the dissemination of information to agencies involved in Port Health and Animal Quarantine, as well as healthcare providers and regional counterparts.

The Minister added many of the specific recommended actions from CARPHA are in place in the BVI and strengthened in response to COVID-19.

The CDC in a travel advisory has warned, "Travelers should AVOID: Close contact with sick people, including those with skin lesions or genital lesions; Contact with dead or live wild animals such as small mammals including rodents (rats, squirrels) and non-human primates (monkeys, apes); Eating or preparing meat from wild game (bushmeat) or using products derived from wild animals from Africa (creams, lotions, powders);”

It said contact with contaminated materials used by sick people (such as clothing, bedding, or materials used in healthcare settings) or that came into contact with infected animals should also be avoided.

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