Uganda is not at risk of monkeypox (Ministry of Health)
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda will not be affected by monkeypox according to Ministry of Health officials.
Monkeypox is a viral disease caused by the orthopoxvirus. It is a zoonotic disease transmitted from animals to humans. The disease belongs to the same family as eradicated smallpox.
The disease is common in wild animals like primates, but can infect humans through contact. Monkeypox is endemic in four African countries, including neighboring DRC, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.
While cases of the disease are now being reported in other parts of the world, health officials are confident the disease will not become a problem in Uganda.
Dr Daniel Kyabayinze, Commissioner for Public Health in the Ministry of Health, said Uganda was immune to the disease. He says that with the free entry and exit of Congolese nationals into the country, it is possible that Ugandans are already immune to the disease.
According to reports from the World Health Organization, more than 200 cases of the disease have been reported in more than 80 countries. The majority of cases have been reported in communities where men have sex with other men. Many victims are men between the ages of 20 and 50.
The incubation period of monkeypox ranges from 5 to 21 days. The disease manifests with fever, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches, chills, exhaustion, and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.
Dr Henry Mwebesa, director general of health services at the Ministry of Health, said there was no need to panic. According to Dr Mwebesa, monkeypox has been present in the East African region for years and as such is not a new disease.
“Monkeypox is endemic in the DRC and all this time it has never been a cause for concern in Uganda, our people should not panic, there is no reason to worry,” said said Dr Mwebesa.
The virus can be transmitted through contact with broken skin and droplets from an infected person, as well as shared items such as bedding and towels, but usually clears up after two to four weeks, health officials say.
Despite this increase in cases in the DRC and the alarm that the WHO has raised about the disease, Dr Kyabayinze is warning the public to respect public health measures. Caution, Kyabayinze said, will help ensure the country reports no cases.
“We have never had a problem with monkeypox but if we do, COVID-19 public health preventive measures are enough. Avoiding crowded places where you can come into contact with infected people is one of the measures that are transversal,” he said.