Health chiefs in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are stepping up safety measures to guard against the potential spread of the monkeypox virus.
Both Abu Dhabi Department of Health and Dubai Health Authority urged medical facilities on Friday to remain vigilant over the virus in notices issued on Friday.
A circular from Dubai Health Authority told of the need to “enhance and promote the early detection of the disease”.
It said it was “raising the level of epidemiological surveillance of monkeypox cases” in Dubai with immediate effect.
Massachusetts, in the east coast of the US, on Wednesday reported a rare case of monkeypox in a man who recently travelled to Canada. Health officials are investigating whether it is connected to small outbreaks in Europe.
Monkeypox is typically limited to Africa, and rare cases in the US and elsewhere are usually linked to travel there.
Concern is growing over its spread, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) holding an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the outbreak.
About 80 cases of the virus have been confirmed in 11 countries, WHO stated.
The global health body said another 50 suspected infections are being investigated, without naming the countries involved.
Earlier, infections were confirmed in Italy, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, the US, Canada and the UK.
The DHA stressed in its notice that WHO had “stated that the likelihood of spread from Europe globally is high”.
“Thus, the potential of the introducing of this resistant strain locally is possible", the DHA said in the circular, published on its website.
It urged healthcare workers to bolster monitoring by “performing the required confirmatory RT-PCR test and gene sequencing to trace the infection source” in cases of suspected infection.
This should be followed by the immediate reporting of lab confirmed cases to the preventive medicine section of the authority.
Anyone found to have the disease should be isolated in a healthcare facilities, with checks to be made on close contacts to prevent further spread.
Abu Dhabi Department of Health sent a similar message to healthcare providers.
"The probability of importation of cases to the UAE is high due to the increase in international travel," the circular stated.
"Therefore, all healthcare providers must comply with the following: Enhance vigilance to identify cases fitting the case definition; Report any suspected, probable or confirmed case in the Infectious Disease Notification System under occurrence of unusual disease; Send clinical rash sample to the reference lab at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City."
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare infection usually spread by wild animals in central and west Africa.
It can be caught from infected wild animals, particularly rodents such as rats, mice and squirrels.
You can be infected by an animal bite or if you come into contact with an animal’s blood or bodily fluids.
It may be possible to catch monkeypox by eating meat from an infected animal that has not been properly cooked.
Human-to-human transmission can occur through touching towels or bedding of a patient, touching monkeypox blisters or by coughs and sneezes.
What are the symptoms?
It takes between five and 21 days for initial symptoms to appear.
- high temperature
- muscle ache
- swollen glands
- shivering and chills
The monkeypox rash is a secondary symptom, usually starting on the face and spreading to other parts of the body.
Symptoms usually clear up in two to four weeks.