Health officials engaged in contact tracing of second monkeypox patient
This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. The World Health Organization said Friday, May 27, 2022, that nearly 200 cases of monkeypox have been reported in more than 20 countries not usually known to have outbreaks of the unusual disease. (Cynthia S Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, File)

Local health authorities have started tracing the contacts of the second person to test positive for monkeypox in Jamaica.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Health and Wellness said the person is "a male traveller who recently returned to the island from New York".

He is now in isolation in a hospital and is in stable condition.

Jamaica's first confirmed case of monkeypox was reported by the health ministry on July 6.

That male victim had travelled from the United Kingdom and presented to Jamaica's public health system on July 5, having arrived in the island some five days earlier.

He subsequently walked out of the medical facility where he was being held in isolation in what he had told the Jamaica Observer was an effort to reach his five-year-old daughter who had travelled to the island with him.

He was later held and returned to isolation while the health ministry stepped up its tracing of people who might have been in contact with him, including the driver of the motor car who took him from the hospital.

On Saturday, the World Health Organization (WHO) activated its highest alert level for the growing monkeypox outbreak, declaring the virus a public health emergency of international concern.

The rare designation means the WHO now views the outbreak as a significant enough threat to global health that a coordinated international response is needed to prevent the virus from spreading further and potentially escalating into a pandemic.

Although the declaration does not impose requirements on national governments, it serves as an urgent call for action.

Late last week, the WHO reported 14,000 cases, including five deaths.

On Sunday, the health and wellness ministry urged Jamaicans to remain vigilant by heightening their adherence to the infection prevention measures for COVID-19 which are effective in limiting spread of monkeypox. They include frequent hand washing/sanitisation, mask-wearing and physical distancing.

The ministry also reminded that monkeypox may spread when a person comes into close contact with an infected animal or individual.

"Person-to-person spread may occur through direct contact with monkeypox skin lesions or scabs; contaminated personal items such as clothing, bed linen or towels used by an infected person; and respiratory droplets by way of coughing or sneezing of an individual with a monkeypox rash," the ministry stated.

Symptoms of monkeypox are usually mild to moderate and include fever, intense headache, swelling of the lymph nodes, back pain, muscle ache, and/or rash on the skin.

The ministry reiterated that people who experience these warning signs must immediately isolate and call ahead to their health centre or doctor before visiting.

Additional information on monkeypox can be found on the ministry's website www.moh.gov.jm or by contacting parish health departments.

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