St Lucia says it is currently monitoring six suspected cases of monkeypox.
A release from the Ministry of Health said four of the suspected cases involve people who do not have a travel history outside of island.
“These suspected cases are being managed in isolation while they await their results of the monkeypox tests,” the release said. “The Epidemiology Unit within the Ministry of Health is conducting contact tracing for these suspected cases.”
The ministry is now urging St Lucians who develop symptoms, including a rash, to go to the nearest health care facility for evaluation as soon as possible.
“The rapid identification and management of monkeypox cases will limit the spread of this infectious disease in the community,” it said. “Others are advised to take measures that limit their risk of contracting monkeypox. These measures include frequent washing of hands with soap and water or use of hand sanitizers, the wearing of face masks when in public spaces, and the practicing of physical distancing. In addition, people are encouraged to eat healthy, avoid excessive use of alcohol, stop smoking, and have regular exercise. People with chronic illnesses like hypertension and diabetes are asked to work with their health care provider to ensure control of these illnesses.”
The Ministry of Health is also advising the public that it is the only reliable source of monkeypox information on the island.
Monkypox is characterized by the onset of fever, headache, back pain, muscle ache, weakness, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that progresses through several stages from being flat and red to
small, raised bumps like pimples. These then change to fluid filled vesicles that become pus filled before drying to form scabs which fall off as new skin forms at the lesion sites. A person remains infectious from the onset of symptoms until the lesions fall off with the formation of new skin. Symptoms may last two to four weeks.