DILG tells CAR LGUs to initiate preventive measures vs monkeypox

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) urged local government units (LGUs) at the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) to initiate appropriate steps in preventing the transmission of the monkeypox virus following the first confirmed case in the country on July 29.

“While the Department of Health (DOH) is assuring us that our public health surveillance systems are able to detect and confirm monkeypox cases, we are calling on LGUs to assist in the prevention on the possible transmission and spread of this new virus,” said DILG-CAR Regional Director Araceli San Jose.

San Jose also suggested that the LGUs should be familiar with the existing DOH guidelines and protocols on the surveillance, screening, management and infection control of monkeypox.

Based on DOH Department Memorandum Numbers 2022-0220 and 2022-0291, the guidelines and protocols include rapid detection and identification of cases, immediate containment and provision of appropriate clinical care to prevent transmission; collection of samples by the DOH Epidemiology Bureau (EB) for confirmatory testing and genome sequencing; coordination with the DOH, through the Bureau of Quarantine, for the isolation and quarantine of infected individuals; and, provision of supportive treatment directed at relieving symptoms and secondary infection in cases of complications.

“With the possible transmission of the new virus, LGUs shall ensure the readiness of their respective local health office, Epidemiologic and Surveillance Units, and Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs) to implement the DOH guidelines and protocols, in preparation for activation once the need arises,” she added.

The DILG-CAR chief also reminded the LGUs to strictly monitor travelers from the countries with reported or ongoing cases of monkeypox who show symptoms such as fever, intense headache, lymphadenopathy or swelling of the lymph nodes, back pain, myalgia or muscle aches, intense asthenia, lack of energy and skin eruption.

In accordance with Republic Act (RA) Number 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, the LGUs are directed to coordinate with the private healthcare facilities to ensure reporting of individuals experiencing signs and symptoms of monkeypox.

“LGUs shall report information on suspected or confirmed cases to the DOH, through its Epidemiology Bureau and Centers for Health Development (CHDs) within twenty-four (24) hours,” San Jose said.

With the threat of transmission of the monkeypox virus, San Jose called on the LGUs to enjoin their constituents to strictly adhere to minimum public health standards (MPHS) set by the DOH to prevent infection, with the focus on teaching individuals and communities about measures to limit infection, including constant disinfection, practice of good hand and respiratory hygiene, and minimization of contact with sick individuals, particularly skin-to-skin or sexual contact with those exhibiting the signs and symptoms of monkeypox.

Monkeypox alert

Based on a statement of the Baguio City Public Information Office (PIO), the World Health Organization (WHO) through City Health Services Office (HSO) head Dr. Rowena Galpo alerted the residents in the city on the global outbreak of the new virus as it is now a public health emergency of international concerns.

“The incubation period is seven to 14 days and symptoms may disappear in two to three weeks without treatment. However, the administration of smallpox vaccine, which is given for the childhood disease, may give 85 percent protection,” Galpo said.

She explained that the protocols in prevention of transmission of the virus is the same as that in avoiding Covid-19 such as keeping hands clean and off the face, physical distancing, and keeping the mask on as the disease is transmitted through bodily fluids which includes the saliva and nasal discharge.

Reports disclosed that monkeypox was detected in 71 countries, Japan being the latest, and heavily concentrated in Europe with five deaths listed in Africa. (Chito A. Chavez)