(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – The first confirmed case of mpox virus was detected in Trinidad and Tobago yesterday, the Ministry of Health said.
“The patient is a middle-aged male with travel-related history. He was tested earlier (yesterday) and the sample was then sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency’s (Carpha) laboratory via the Trinidad Public Health Lab,” the ministry said in a statement.
The relevant County Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) has initiated the local public health response, which includes contact tracing, it added.
The ministry reminded that the mpox virus continues to circulate worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) update (as at July 4, 2023), 88,144 cases have been detected globally among 112 countries, and there has been a total of 149 deaths.
The mpox virus can range from mild disease to severe illness and is spread through close contact or through respiratory droplets.
Common signs and symptoms may include a skin rash or mucosal lesions which can last two to four weeks, accompanied by fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy and swollen lymph nodes.
Anyone experiencing these symptoms is advised to visit their nearest health facility, the ministry said.
The public was also reminded to maintain good hygiene practices such as handwashing or sanitising where appropriate.
The ministry said the mpox vaccine is available in Trinidad and Tobago.
“However, at this time, it would be utilised for contacts of known positives only,” it said.
Further information on the mpox virus can be found on the ministry’s website at www.health.gov.tt.
According to WHO, the virus was discovered in Denmark in 1958 in monkeys kept for research, and the first reported human case of mpox was a nine-month-old boy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970.
Mpox can spread from person to person or occasionally from animals to people.
Following eradication of smallpox in 1980 and the end of smallpox vaccination worldwide, mpox steadily emerged in Central, East and West Africa.
The United States has the highest number of deaths and cases (30,555 and 45 respectively), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website notes.
WHO says people can contract mpox from contaminated objects such as clothing or linens, through injuries in health care, or in community settings such as tattoo parlours.