By Andrea Charalambous
A circular will be sent to all doctors by Tuesday with the guidelines to follow if they come across any cases of monkeypox virus.
The press spokesperson of the health ministry Konstantinos Athanasiou said that the health services are engaged in the preparation of a plan that the country will apply if cases are detected in Cyprus and there will be a meeting on Tuesday.
He noted, at the same time, that the guidelines from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organisation are also expected.
Cyprus may soon be faced with the new virus epidemiologist Michalis Voniatis said. Fifty-six people in the UK have been identified as having the virus and cases have also been detected in countries such as the US, Israel, Germany, Italy and Denmark.
Monkeypox is a virus that can cause symptoms including fever, aches and presents with a distinctive bumpy rash.
It is related to smallpox, but is usually milder, particularly the West African strain of the virus.
Most people fully recover in two to four weeks.
At this stage, the virus does not cause severe disease and is spread through close contact. Largely found in West and Central Africa, it does not usually spread easily between people.
Even so, professor of infectious diseases Dr Maria Koliou said the population needs to observe the rules of cleanliness. If they see suspicious lesions on someone’s body they should not approach or touch, also if there are any suspicious symptoms they should talk to their doctor, so that an investigation can be carried out.
The smallpox vaccine offers 80 per cent protection against monkeypox, and needs to be given to the special population groups that are at high risk. The virus is destroyed at 60 degrees when the clothes are washed, Koliou said. Bleach also destroys it, the doctor said.
The UK has begun to inoculate healthcare workers who may be at risk while caring for patients with the smallpox vaccine. The US government says it has enough smallpox vaccine stored in its Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to vaccinate the entire US population. Smallpox was eradicated in 1980.
There are antiviral drugs for smallpox that could also be used to treat monkeypox under certain circumstances, a spokesperson for the US Department of Health and Human Services said last week.