The Ministry of Health (MoH) on Monday June 6, 2022 said it has heightened surveillance following the spread of monkeypox in some parts of the world.

Dr. Henry Mwebesa, Director-General Health Services, said although Uganda has not registered any case, there is a need to increase surveillance after the disease spread to 23 non-endemic countries worldwide and eight endemic countries in Africa, including neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The Ministry of Health is working closely with partners to monitor the evolving situation of the monkey pox outbreak in different parts of the world,” he said in a statement issued.

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The ministry, according to the statement, has intensified surveillance by all health workers to look out for patients with suspected signs and symptoms of Monkeypox.

Testing capabilities at the Uganda Virus Research Institute, the biggest laboratory in the country, have been strengthened to accurately diagnose Monkeypox.

Monkeypox, according to the statement, is a viral disease transmitted from animals to humans. It is spread from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets, and contaminated materials such as beddings.

“Eating inadequately cooked meat and other animal products of infected animals is a possible risk factor,” added the statement.

Signs and symptoms include fever, rash, intense headache, swelling of the lymph nodes, back pain, muscle pains, and body weakness; 3-6 per cent of infected people succumb to the disease, the ministry said.

“Monkey Pox can be prevented by avoiding physical or direct contact including intimate or sexual intercourse with an infected person. If someone is suspected or confirmed as having Monkey Pox, they should isolate at home or in an appropriate facility until the scabs have fallen off, and abstain from sex, including oral sex,” the statement guided.

During the period of infection, patients must be offered supportive medical care to ease symptoms such as pain or itchiness and they should be monitored for early detection of any medical complications of the illness. If one develops a rash, fever or a feeling of discomfort, please contact your health worker and get tested for Monkeypox.

“The Ministry of Health is working with partners to closely monitor the evolving situation of the outbreak of Monkeypox in different parts of the world and the following interventions are being undertaken. Always use appropriate Personal Protective Measures when taking care of a patient who has tested positive for Monkeypox,” read part of the statement.

The ministry is strengthening testing capabilities at Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) to test and accurately diagnose Monkeypox. There is also intensified surveillance by all health workers to look out for patients with suspected signs and symptoms of Monkeypox and report to the Ministry of Health through the formal reporting channels and intensified partner and stakeholder engagement with other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including the Wildlife Authority to strengthen surveillance both in the animal and human health sectors.

“The general public is advised to remain vigilant and report any suspected patients to the nearest health workers immediately,” the statement said.

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