All three cases of monkeypox identified in Cyprus over the past few days, are recovering in very good condition, health ministry spokesman, Constantinos Athanasiou said on Monday.
The state of the first case traced on the island, a 40-year-old sailor, is improving, as he remains treated at the Nicosia general hospital, while the other two did not require hospitalisation. They were both transferred to Eden rehabilitation centre in Tersefanou for isolation, Athanasiou said.
He added that an information campaign will start in hospitals as of Monday, so that health professionals managing suspected or confirmed cases of monkeypox can express their interest in vaccination.
So far, three of seven identified contacts of the 40-year-old sailor, the first confirmed case on the island, have been vaccinated, Athanasiou said.
“Seven people who were contacts from the first case expressed interest but only three proceeded with vaccination.” The first vaccinations took place on Sunday.
Athanasiou also noted that actions are being taken through the European vaccine-sharing mechanism to speed-up the receipt in Cyprus of the approved drug Tecovirimat.
Cyprus received 1,260 vaccines on Saturday morning.
It is important that anyone developing symptoms consistent with monkeypox, to immediately contact their personal doctor to be given necessary instructions, Athanasiou added.
Monkeypox is a rare infection caused by a virus related to smallpox. It was first discovered in animals in the late 1950s while the first human case occurred in the 1970s. Transmission can happen through contact with infected animals or from person to person, including contact with contaminated objects such as bedding.
The majority of people infected with the virus show no symptoms. For people who will develop symptoms these appear 5-21 days after infection (most commonly around day 12). These may include fever, headache, myalgias, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills and weakness.
As regards prevention, the monkeypox vaccine is the same one used against smallpox in adults. It contains a modified form of the damalitis virus called ‘modified Ankara-type damalitis virus’ which is related to the smallpox virus, the health ministry said.
It added the jab will be used on prescription in cases where it is considered necessary to protect against the virus in accordance with official recommendations.
Persons who have not previously been vaccinated against smallpox, monkeypox or disease caused by the damalitis virus should receive two 0.5ml doses, with the second dose administered at least 28 days after the first. Those previously jabbed can receive a single dose of the 0.5ml unless they have a compromised immune system and require two.
“Studies have shown that the monkeypox vaccine is effective in triggering the production of antibodies at a level capable of providing protection against smallpox,” the health ministry said, adding however, that the duration of protection is not yet known. The studies included patients with HIV and atopic dermatitis and people who had previously been vaccinated against smallpox.
The most common side effects of the monkeypox vaccine (which may occur in more than 1 in 10 people) are headache, nausea, muscle pain, fatigue and injection site reactions such as pain, redness, swelling, hardening and itching.