Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
The Ministry of Health and Social Development is increasing its surveillance in response to the detection of Monkeypox cases in the Region and the high risk of disease introduction due to increased travel, in conjunction with the Territory’s return to pre-pandemic protocols.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ronald Georges said as of today there are no confirmed or suspected cases of Monkeypox in the British Virgin Islands however, it is critical that the British Virgin Islands raises its awareness and enters into a state of heightened vigilance and readiness so that the Territory can respond quickly to reduce human-to-human transmission.
Monkeypox, according to the Acting Chief Medical Officer, is a viral disease which primarily occurs in countries of Central and West Africa. Its symptoms are similar, but less severe than Smallpox.
“The current mode of transmission is predominantly through close human-to-human contact. Direct contact with infectious skin lesions, blood or body fluids and respiratory droplets (e.g., coughs and sneezes) and handling of contaminated clothing, linens or bedding of those used by an infected or sick person can also serve as sources of infection,” Dr. Georges said.
If infected, it can take between 5-21 days before symptoms appear. First symptoms are typically flu-like (fever, headache, back pain, muscle aches, exhaustion), with swelling of the lymph nodes. This then progresses to a widespread rash on the face and body (this can include the genitals). The red bumps eventually turn to pus-filled blisters that crust over.
“Monkeypox disease is usually mild and rarely fatal. Most people recover in a few weeks without treatment,” Dr Georges said.
Monkeypox can affect anyone. To minimise risk, especially during travel, please maintain the Public Health Protocols such as:
- practicing good hand hygiene (e.g., washing hands often with soap or water or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser)
- avoiding contact with infected or sick persons
- wearing a face mask if you are in close contact with someone with symptoms
- practice safe sex
Dr. Georges further stated that persons exhibiting symptoms of Monkeypox should call ahead before visiting their medical practitioner for examination and advice, especially if there is recent history of travel or contact with a person who recently travelled.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development is committed to protecting and promoting the health of the people of the Virgin Islands.