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RITM can now detect monkeypox cases

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The Philippines can now detect possible cases of monkeypox through the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the Department of Health (DoH) announced Wednesday.

In an advisory, the agency said RITM has successfully optimized its real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for detecting monkeypox virus.

The production of the RT-PCR is part of the government’s preparedness and response to the monkeypox, which now creates a global concern as it now spreads in areas where the virus is not endemic.

The RITM technical team is currently optimizing a second PCR assay for differentiating the monkeypox virus clade, according to the DoH.

Meanwhile, the agency is organizing a training on the clinical approach to skin lesions, as well as collection, handling, and transport of samples from skin lesions, to guide all Disease Reporting Units and Epidemiology and Surveillance Units.

Only those considered suspect for probable cases of monkeypox are eligible to be processed, according to the DoH’s Department Memorandum 2022-0220.

Among the symptoms of monkeypox are skin rashes accompanied by fever, intense headache, swelling of the lymph nodes, back pain, muscle aches, back pain and intense lack of energy.

Skin lesions

The guidelines also state that travelers from countries with reported or ongoing cases of monkeypox, who are manifesting the monkeypox signs and symptoms, have to coordinate with concerned agencies such as the Philippine Embassy or the Department of Foreign Affairs, the DoH Bureau of Quarantine, Department of Labor and Employment, Overseas Workers and Welfare Administration, and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration for proper coordination and management.

“Any individual who develops skin lesions during international travel or upon return to the country shall immediately report to a health professional, and provide information about all recent travel history, sexual history and smallpox immunization history,” it added.

The guidelines stressed that suspected or probable case of monkeypox should undergo home isolation for at least 21 days or until all symptoms, including any rashes, crustings or scabs are healed.
So far, around 40 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease, with patients usually men having sex with men.

Among the countries which recently reported their first cases were South Korea and Singapore.

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