GHS To Vaccinate High Risk Groups Against Monkeypox

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has hinted at a possible vaccination against Monkeypox among high risk groups identified in the country.

Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General in an interview with the Ghanaian Times said, health authorities were closely monitoring the rate of spread, extent of risk within the populace among other factors, for a final determination.

“We have reached out to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the vaccines, the criteria for vaccination, and how to get it because vaccines for Monkeypox are not really common.

It's early days yet although now that it’s been declared public health emergency of international concern, efforts are being heightened to get the vaccines but, we look at the numbers, the risk groups and if we see a particular group at high risk, we will vaccinate as its being done in countries like the US.”

Dr Kuma Aboagye who was speaking on the back of a reported death of one person in Bolgatanga in the Upper East region from the disease said, investigations have begun to ascertain the possible cause of death.

“Monkeypox doesn’t usually kill so we will need to verify and confirm the real cause of death.

We cannot say Monkeypox is the cause of death until we have completed all our investigations including autopsy to see what may be the actual cause of death,” he stated.

So far, Ghana has confirmed 39 cases of Monkeypox out of over 200 suspected tests conducted.

The Greater Accra region leads the infection rate, accounting for close to 60 percent of total cases, recording 23 cases so far; Ashanti region, six, Eastern, two, Bono East, one, Bono, one, Upper East, one,  Upper West, two. 

The Director-General said, the health system has heightened surveillance, strengthening its risk communication and training health workers, among other strategies,  to pick up cases in time, manage and contain the spread.

Dr Kuma-Aboagye said the country was yet to establish any link of cases confirmed so far to gay and bisexual partners adding that the disease distribution cuts across all ages.

With the burden of multiple public health emergencies in the country, the DG said adherence to preventive protocols including frequent handwashing with soap and water, covering the nose and mouth when coughing, avoiding overcrowded areas and body contacts with infected objects or persons were crucial.

“Seek medical attention immediately you feel unwell, experience any skin rash or symptoms of the disease,” he advised.

Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease caused by a virus that belongs to the same family as that which causes smallpox.

It is mainly transmitted to humans through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected rodents or primates.

Human-to-human transmission primarily occurs through close personal contact with an infected individual via respiratory droplets, direct contact with bodily fluids, or indirect contact with lesion material (e.g., contaminated clothing or bedding).

Symptoms of Monkeypox typically appear within five to16 days after exposure but can develop up to 21 days.

Symptoms generally include fever, headache, muscle aches and backaches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a distinctive rash characterized by lesions that progress through several stages before falling off.

Most people fully recover from the disease within four weeks and is dependent on how mild or severe symptoms present in a patient.

It can, however, cause death in extreme cases.