S'pore confirms imported case of monkeypox

A monkeypox patient in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during an outbreak in 1997.
A monkeypox patient in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during an outbreak in 1997. PHOTO: CDC/ BRIAN W.J. MAHY

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed an imported case of monkeypox infection in Singapore, the first here, involving a Nigerian national who arrived last month for a workshop in the Central Business District.

The 38-year-old man tested positive on Wednesday for the rare viral disease, which is primarily transmitted to humans from animals, said MOH yesterday.

He is currently in an isolation ward at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), in stable condition.

Meanwhile, 22 out of 23 individuals identified as close contacts of the patient are also under quarantine and monitoring as a precautionary measure. They have also been offered vaccination to prevent the disease or reduce the severity of symptoms.

Anyone who develops symptoms will be treated at NCID, said MOH.

The contacts include workshop participants and trainers, a worker at the venue and hotel staff. Another workshop participant left Singapore on May 5 before the patient was diagnosed.

He has since told MOH that he is well, with no symptoms, but MOH has informed the public health authority in his home country as a precaution, it said.

While it is possible for the disease to be transmitted between humans, the risk is low, and most patients recover within two to three weeks, said MOH.

Common symptoms include fever, headache, muscle ache, backache, swollen lymph nodes and skin rash.

Before arriving in Singapore on April 28, the man attended a wedding in Nigeria, where he may have consumed bush meat - meat of wild animals - a possible source of the monkeypox virus.

While here, he stayed at Hotel 81 Orchid in Geylang and attended a workshop at the Samsung Hub in Church Street.

He developed fever, muscle ache, chills and skin rash on April 30, and reportedly stayed in his hotel room most of the time from May 1 to Tuesday. He was taken by ambulance on Tuesday to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where he was referred to NCID.

Others who were in contact with the man but have a low risk of infection are under active surveillance and will be contacted twice daily to monitor their health status, said MOH, adding that investigations and contact tracing operations are ongoing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore confirms imported case of monkeypox'. Print Edition | Subscribe