DOH confirms 2 more cases of monkeypox in PH

This undated electron microscopic (EM) handout image provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention depicts a monkeypox virion, obtained from a clinical sample associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. It was a thin section image from a human skin sample. On the left were mature, oval-shaped virus particles, and on the right were the crescents, and spherical particles of immature virions. Cynthia S. Goldsmith / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / AFP

The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Friday, Aug. 19, two additional cases of monkeypox in the country, raising the total number of cases to three.

DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the two cases, aged 34 and 29, both “had recent travel history to countries with confirmed cases” of monkeypox.

The positive RT-PCR result of the 34-year-old patient was released on Aug. 18 and is currently under home isolation. Contact tracing in relation to this case is ongoing, said Vergeire.

The 29-year-old patient was found positive on Aug. 19 and is currently undergoing isolation in a health facility. The DOH has already identified 17 close contacts of this patient, said Vergeire.

Meanwhile, the country’s first monkeypox case has already recovered and was discharged from isolation last Aug. 6, said Vergeire.

The DOH official did not specify the gender of these new cases. “To comply with the laws on notifiable disease and data privacy, we cannot release any other details beyond what has already been mentioned at this time,” said Vergeire.

The two new cases are currently not in severe condition, Vergeire noted, when asked why the two new cases have different modes of isolation.

Vergeire explained that the 31 year old patient was able to go to a health facility early, where this person was “managed and admitted.” This patient was discharged “based on the assessment of the doctor” that this person can continue isolating at home for a period of 21 days.

“Yung isa na admit siya doon, being managed but is not severe. Ginagamot lang po yung usual symptoms ng monkeypox (The other one was admitted and is being managed but the is not severe. The usual symptoms of monkeypox are being treated) like the lesions and other symptoms like flu-like illness,” she added.

Vergeire said that the country's monkeypox cases have exhibited lesions on their faces and other parts of their bodies.

“Dito sa ating mga pasyente consistent naman na meron sila sa mukha, meron din po sa ibang parte ng katawan, meron din lesions also in their sensitive areas (Our patients have it on their face, they also have it on other parts of the body, they also have lesions in their sensitive areas),” she said.

As of this time, the DOH considered these cases “imported.”

“Based on our initial analysis mukhang ito pong mga kasong na detect natin (it looks like these cases that we detected) are still imported. But we are continuously evaluating and we are doing our surveillance,” said Vergeire.

“These three cases do not have any links at all. They all went to different countries. So walang link yung first case, second case, and third case natin. Itong mga kaso na ito ay may kanya-kanyang itineraries o napuntahan, iba-iba din ang mga lokasyon nila (So our first case, second case, and third case have no link. These cases have their own itineraries, they have different locations),” she added.

Undetected cases, change in protocols

The DOH, meanwhile, is not ruling out the possibility of “undetected” cases of monkeypox in the country.

“So, the possibility of other cases still being not detected, maari (is possible). Pero maiiwasan natin iyan kung ang ating mga kababayan ay agad-agad magpapakonsulta para agad na ma-isolate, ma-manage natin, at makuhanan ng samples para mas mapigilan natin kung saka-sakaling dumami pa ang infections (But we can avoid that if our citizens will seek medical consult immediately so that we can immediately isolate, manage, and obtain samples so that we can prevent further rise in cases),” said Vergeire.

Vergeire said there will be no changes in the protocols versus monkeypox.

“As to the protocols, wala po tayong babaguhin sa protocols. Unang-una yung tanong kailangan ba natin magsara ng ating borders, hindi po natin kailangan gawin iyon (As to the protocols, we will not change anything. The first question is do we need to close our borders, we don't need to do that). Even WHO , in countries where there are really high cases of monkeypox, doesn’t recommend closing their borders,” she said.

“Ang kailangan natin gawin, we intensify further our surveillance system and impormasyon para sa ating mga kababayan para guided tayo lahat kung ano ang dapat nating gawin (What we need to do, we further intensify our surveillance system and information dissemination for our citizens to guide us all on what we should do),” she added.