Ministry of Health refutes claims of monkeypox cases in Antigua and Barbuda

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Monkeypox is an illness caused by a viral pathogen (Photo courtesy CDC)
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PRESS RELEASE

The Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment wishes to state that, contrary to social media posts, there are no confirmed monkeypox cases in Antigua and Barbuda. The Ministry is outraged that any person would disseminate false information suggesting the presence of monkeypox in the twin island state. This act became even more egregious when it was established that the perpetrator is a current employee of the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre. We strongly condemn any such act creating alarm and distress in the public.

We would urge all members of the public to be responsible at all times in disseminating information and to desist from circulating false information that undermines our public health system. All laboratory investigations for suspected monkeypox cases have been negative both at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre that commenced monkeypox testing last week. We therefore reiterate that THERE ARE NO CONFIRMED CASES OF MONKEYPOX IN ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA.

Please be assured that if and when a monkeypox case is confirmed the Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment will promptly report this information to the public. This is consistent with the Ministry’s commitment to transparency, particularly with regard to public health matters, as demonstrated in the past.

In the meantime, members of the public are reminded that monkeypox is a viral disease characterized by a fever, enlarged lymph nodes and a rash. Monkeypox is spread from person to person by direct contact with the rash, bodily fluids (fluid, pus or blood from skin lesions), and scabs. Clothing, sheets, towels and other objects can also be a source of infection. The virus is also transmitted from pregnant a mother to her unborn child. Physicians are reminded to report any suspected cases monkeypox to the MOHWE’s Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.

There is no specific treatment for monkeypox. However, the public is advised that social and physical distancing, frequent handwashing and wearing facemasks may prevent infection. Persons are therefore strongly advised to practice these public health and social measures to avoid becoming infected.

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