JAPAN- Japan’s health ministry has approved the use of a smallpox vaccine believed to be effective against monkeypox.
Health officials said that the smallpox vaccine is thought to be 85 percent effective against monkeypox.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.
It is a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks. Severe cases occur more commonly among children and are related to the extent of virus exposure, patient health status and nature of complications. Underlying immune deficiencies may lead to worse outcomes.
Symptoms of monkeypox include an acute rash, fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes and muscle aches.
The international outbreak which began in May 2022, has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a global health emergency.
Monkeypox has mainly spread in Europe and North America among persons who haven’t recently traveled to an endemic area.
The disease has long been endemic in countries in Africa. The WHO has received more than 16,000 case reports from 75 countries and territories.
Japan confirmed two cases of the disease in late July in men in their 30s, who had both traveled overseas.
The Japanese health ministry is looking into an oral medication called Tecovirimat which is used to treat smallpox.
The drug has been approved overseas but not yet in Japan. The health ministry has imported the medicine for research so it can be used as part of a clinical study for patients in Japan.
This served as a wake-up call for countries as they struggle to contain the spread of the virus that causes monkeypox.
“We have enough stock of a smallpox vaccine, which is considered to be effective in preventing symptoms after exposure to the virus and preventing cases from becoming severe,” Health minister Shigeyuki Goto said.
He also added that the Japanese health ministry has an ongoing clinical study where they are going to administer monkeypox medicine to patients when necessary.
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