JAKARTA: The Health Ministry has urged the public to remain vigilant against mpox after Indonesia recorded its first fatality since the disease was discovered in the country last year.

The ministry reported on Thursday (Nov 23) that a patient who had contracted mpox had died in Cipto Mangunkusumo hospital (RSCM) in Salemba, Central Jakarta, due to “severe comorbidities”.

Lie Khie Chen, an internist at the RSCM, said the patient was not admitted to the hospital for mpox, but for small intestine obstruction.

“He had been treated in several hospitals for three to four weeks, but ultimately was referred to the RSCM to undergo an operation to remove a blockage in his small intestine,” Lie said in a statement on Thursday.

He added that the patient’s condition was initially stable after his operation but severe lesions caused by his mpox combined with a weakened immune system due to AIDS had led to “a lung complication” that eventually killed him two weeks after the procedure.

The virus causes rashes and fever that last two to four weeks and can occasionally lead to death. The disease, formerly known as monkeypox, spreads through direct contact with infectious skin or lesions, including face-to-face, skin-to-skin and respiratory droplets.

Mpox virus variants are referred to as clades: clade I which has a fatality rate of around 10 percent and clade II with less than a 1 percent fatality rate. Most of the mpox cases found in last year’s global outbreak are from clade II.

The World Health Organization dropped the mpox emergency status in May of this year following the declining rate of the spread of the virus worldwide.

Recent uptick Indonesia reported this year a total of 57 confirmed mpox cases since mid-October, an unprecedented increase compared with 2022, when the country recorded the first and only case throughout the year in Jakarta.

Most of this year’s cases have so far been found in Jakarta, with the capital contributing a total of 42 cases, followed by six cases each in neighbouring West Java and Banten, two cases in East Java and one in Riau Islands.

As of Thursday, 33 patients had fully recovered from mpox Health authorities have ramped up detection and prevention measures, including by providing vaccines, but social stigma surrounding mpox has hindered efforts to locate patients and curb the spread of the disease.

The disease in Indonesia has mainly been found in men, particularly among men who have sex with men. But mpox is not a sexually transmitted infection and it can infect anyone regardless of their sexual orientation.

Despite mpox’s low fatality rate, the disease can be lethal for children under a year old, people with a history of eczema, pregnant or breastfeeding women or people with severely weakened immune systems, such as those suffering from HIV.

The Health Ministry said that all known mpox patients in Indonesia had comorbidities, increasing their risks of contracting serious illness or dying from the disease.

Out of the 57 patients, 39 have HIV, 16 have syphilis, two have herpes, two have hypertension and two have tuberculosis.

The ministry’s director for surveillance and health quarantine, Achmad Farchanny Tri Adryanto, urged the public to remain vigilant against the disease by maintaining personal hygiene and refraining from taking part in high-risk sexual activities.

“Practice safe sex and reduce the number of sex partners. If you show mpox symptoms such as rashes and fever, go to health facilities as soon as possible, limit outdoor activities and avoid crowded spaces,” Achmad said in a press conference recently.

He said that the ministry would continue to scale up surveillance and vaccination. “We have rolled out 495 first doses of the mpox vaccine to the 57 patients’ close contacts and at-risk groups such as people with HIV. We started disbursing the second doses on Nov. 21,” Achmad said. – The Jakarta Post/ANN





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