Cases of monkeypox were first confirmed in Indonesia in August 2022. Although its fatality rate is far below that of COVID-19, namely less than 0.001% of total cases, this disease still needs to be watched out for.
The UGM Faculty of Pharmacy contributed to increasing awareness of monkeypox in a webinar with the theme “Understanding Monkeypox: a Disease Similar to Chickenpox but More Dangerous” on Thursday (November 9).
“This disease has been found since 1958 and was first discovered in monkeys under study. But now it has mutated to attack humans, and it’s zoonotic,” said Professor Ika Puspita Sari.
“It first appeared in humans in 1970 the Democratic Republic of Congo. Congo is one of the endemic areas. So many deadly viruses are found in Africa, and monkeypox is also included.”
The spread of monkeypox is relatively rapid. According to WHO reports, as of May 21, 2022, monkeypox has attacked Europe, America, and Australia.
Monkeypox was once predicted to be one of the endemic diseases. At that time, it was said that this disease would attack the immune system, especially in lower-middle-income countries.
However, it turns out that monkeypox cases are now primarily found in developed countries, such as the United States, Germany, Spain, and others. This spread is generally caused by high human mobility between nations and a lack of attention to this disease.
Monkeypox can pose a high risk, especially for the younger age group, considering that smallpox vaccination has been stopped since 1980 because it is considered eradicated.
According to the Indonesian Ministry of Health, the symptoms of monkeypox are almost the same as those of chickenpox, only milder.
Patients will experience fever, headaches, muscle aches, and fatigue. The difference is that monkeypox causes swelling of the lymph nodes, while chickenpox does not.
“What needs to be watched out for when getting chickenpox is that the characteristic of monkeypox is that there is not only fluid inside (the bumps) but also pus,” the professor explained.
“It doesn’t have to spread all over the body; it can also accumulate in the hands. And its form doesn’t have to be like chickenpox; it can resemble varicella.”
As of Monday, November 11, 2023, the total number of monkeypox cases in Indonesia reached 35, spread to Jakarta, Bandung, and Bekasi, and began to spread to Tangerang. In all these cases, it was found that there were 10 HIV patients, eight syphilis patients, and 9 HIV & syphilis patients.
However, Professor Sari emphasized that the spread in the western does not mean the spread is limited to the central and eastern regions, especially amid high population mobility from one area to another.
Also, monkeypox tends to target individuals with low immunity. Monkeypox patients in Africa often do not have any immune disorders. This indicates that preventing monkeypox requires considering various possibilities.
So far, the spread of monkeypox that appeared in patients in Indonesia is mostly through sexual contact. But this does not rule out the possibility of transmission through skin-to-skin contact, mouth-to-mouth, mouth-to-skin, or contact with pets and wild animals.
Not only that, monkeypox can also be transmitted through the consumption of meat and contaminated objects.
“The most important thing to understand is prevention. Avoid contact with any animals, whether sick or found dead, in the spread area and any material, bed, and linen,” the professor added.
“There must be isolation for patients with monkeypox. Hand washing must be more frequent, and cook meat properly and thoroughly because there is a possibility of virus contamination.”
Someone who experiences symptoms of monkeypox must be treated immediately to prevent fatal consequences. Therefore, awareness and vigilance for monkeypox are needed to enable quick treatment for patients and the virus does not spread widely.