Health officials on Tuesday held a wide-ranging meeting on how to handle a possible monkeypox outbreak here as they stressed that Cyprus is preparing in line with European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) guidelines.
The ECDC’s advise quick identification (such as tests), management, contact tracing, and reporting of monkeypox (MPX) positives.
“Countries should update their contact tracing mechanisms, their diagnostic capacity… and review the availability of smallpox vaccines, antivirals and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health professionals,” the ECDC said in its latest MPX risk assessment, issued on Monday.
Press officer for the health ministry Konstantinos Athanasiou said that while Cyprus does not currently have smallpox vaccines, nations such as Denmark and the Netherlands have said that they can meet the demand among EU countriesMi if the need arises. The island does, however, have two antiviral treatments for very serious cases.
The health officials also discussed Cyprus’ capacity to test for MPX or whether samples will have to be sent abroad.
He added that Tuesday’s meeting lay the groundwork for a more in-depth discussion and presentation on Thursday.
The ECDC stated that MPX does not spread easily between people, adding that: “The predominance, in the current outbreak, of diagnosed human cases among men having sex with men (MSM), and the nature of the presenting lesions in some cases, suggest transmission occurred during sexual intercourse.”
It said that most cases have had mild symptoms, but it may cause more severe disease in those such as young children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised persons.
“Close contacts of MPX cases should self-monitor for the development of symptoms up to 21 days from the last exposure to a case,” EU agency said.
It added that careful benefit/risk assessment should be performed prior to offering a smallpox vaccine prophylactically for post-exposure of close contacts at increased risk for severe disease.
The UK has so far identified 57 MPX positives, with about 100 confirmed globally.