Monkeypox Outbreak, FK UB Lecturer: People are Urged to Stay Alert and Not Panic

Recently, the medical and health world has been shocked by the spread of monkeypox outbreaks in several countries. Diseases that originate from viral infections are caused by rare viruses from animals, with general symptoms that are almost similar to smallpox.

Dr. dr. Dhelya Widasmara, SpKK (K) when interviewed by Public Relations of the Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Brawijaya explained that the symptoms of human monkeypox are similar to the symptoms of chickenpox in general, but tend to be milder. “The difference is that monkeypox has enlarged lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy),” she explained.

Added by a dermatologist who focuses on this tropical infection, Monkeypox signs and symptoms that appear depend on the phase of this disease, the first is the prodromal phase (which shows symptoms), where according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Indonesian Ministry of Health, the initial symptoms are: in the prodromal phase, there are: the patient will experience a fever accompanied by a headache that sometimes feels severe, muscle pain, back pain, swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) felt in the neck, armpits, or in the groin area, cold body and even fatigue. Meanwhile, the eruption phase occurs 1-3 days (sometimes longer) after the prodromal phase. In the eruption phase, rashes or lesions appear on the skin. Usually, this rash or lesion starts from the face, then spreads to other parts of the body gradually, she explained.

Then, the rash or lesions on the skin will develop from red spots like smallpox (maculopapular), blisters filled with clear fluid or pus, then harden or scab until they fall off. Symptoms of monkeypox will last for 2-4 weeks until the period of skin lesions / rashes disappears, she added.

“Transmission of the monkeypox virus occurs when a person comes into contact with animals, humans, or materials that are infected or contaminated with the virus. Then the virus enters the body through microlesions on the skin or very small (though not visible) wounds, the respiratory tract, or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth). Meanwhile, transmission from animals to humans can occur through bites or scratches, direct contact with body fluids or material from lesions (such as blood), or indirect contact, such as through contaminated mats,” explained the lecturer who is also an alumni of FKUB.

Transmission between humans, she added, is thought to occur mainly through respiratory droplets. “Droplet splashes don’t last long and fly far away, so long face-to-face contact is required. Other methods of human-to-human transmission include direct contact with body fluids or material from the lesion, and indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated clothing or linen.

Furthermore, Dr. Lala said, when asked about how the initial treatment would be if the community, especially children, were infected with the monkeypox virus. In my opinion, monkeypox is a type of disease that can heal itself. Until now, there is no specific treatment for Monkeypox virus infection, so symptomatic and supportive treatment can be given to relieve the complaints that arise.

And the initial treatment that can be done at home if signs and symptoms appear and there is a history of contact with monkeypox sufferers are:

  • Separate infected patients from others who may be at risk of infection.
  • Total rest (bed rest)
  • Eat nutritious foods, maximize fluid intake (drink lots of water)
  • If you have a fever, you can give fever-reducing medication
  • If a rash appears like a blister filled with water, do not scratch or break it. To reduce itching, it can be compressed with gauze and intravenous fluids and take antihistamines

People who should be considered for further treatment are people with severe symptoms (eg, sepsis, encephalitis, or other conditions requiring hospitalization). The following groups may be at high risk of experiencing the severe symptoms above, namely:

  • People with immunocompromised conditions (eg, HIV/AIDS infection, leukemia, lymphoma, malignancy, organ transplantation, taking high doses of corticosteroids, or having an autoimmune disease)
  • Population of children, especially patients < 8 years old
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • People with one or more complications (eg, secondary bacterial skin infection; gastroenteritis with severe nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, or dehydration; bronchopneumonia; concomitant illness or other comorbidities)

When asked about whether monkeypox is a type of virus that is dangerous to humans? Dr. Lala even said that, Monkeypox is a mild symptomatic disease with a very low mortality rate. Symptoms of disease in general from monkepox can be treated and can heal by itself depending on the patient’s immunity.

Regarding the entry of this virus into Malang area, this Dermatoveneurology Specialist indicated that there was a possibility. “The first and most important thing is not to panic. Second, make sure our children have received vaccinations, in this case the smallpox eradication program vaccine (smallpox) that can provide protection against monkeypox. Always maintain a strong immune system with adequate rest, a healthy lifestyle, and reduce stress. The last and no less important thing is to always pray to Allah SWT to keep us away from all kinds of diseases,” she said.

Until now, there have been no reports of monkeypox in Indonesia, including Malang. Countries outside Africa that have reported cases of monkeypox in humans related to travel history from endemic countries or imported animals are the United States (2003), England, Israel (2018) and Singapore (2019). On 7 May 2022 the United Kingdom also reported 1 (one) case of monkeypox in a British citizen who had traveled from Nigeria.

Although monkeypox cases have not been reported in Indonesia and are not an endemic country for this disease, vigilance needs to be increased, considering that many Indonesians have traveled abroad, and our country is the home of various animals that can be a source of transmission of this virus.

Some actions that can be taken to prevent monkeypox virus infection and are found around us:

  • Avoid contact with animals that could harbor the virus (including animals that are sick or found dead in areas where monkeypox occurs).
  • Avoid contact with any material, such as bedding, that has been in contact with a sick animal.
  • Limit consumption with blood or meat that is not cooked properly, or meat that is hunted from wild animals (bush meat)
  • Separate infected patients from others who may be at risk of infection.
  • Practice good hand hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans. For example, washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • For health workers, don’t forget to always use personal protective equipment (PPE) when treating patients.

An appeal to the public, if you experience signs and symptoms of monkeypox, please report it to the nearest health facility so that it can be recorded. (Anang/VQ/ Humas UB/ Trans. Iir)