Monkeypox unlikely to spread from trying on clothes at stores: expert

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2022 06:41 PM

A handout picture AFP
A handout picture made available by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on June 22, 2022 shows a collage of monkeypox rash lesions at an undisclosed date and location. Handout, UK Health Security Agency/AFP

MANILA — The risk of getting monkeypox from trying on clothes at malls is low, an infectious diseases expert said on Tuesday. 

Health authorities earlier said monkeypox spreads in different ways, including contact with items like clothes or linens that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids of a patient. 

There is no evidence yet on how long the virus can remain infectious on an object's surface, according to Dr. Rontgene Solante, chief of the adult infectious diseases and tropical medicine unit of San Lazaro Hospital. 

“So importante diyan, itong mga nagsusuot ng mga damit diyan sa mga malls, hindi po iyan isa sa mga mode of transmission," he said in a televised briefing.

(What's important is trying on clothes at the mall is not among the modes of transmission.)

"Ang pinakaimportanteng mode of transmission ay iyong damit mismo na sinusuot ng pasyente na mayroong monkeypox at hindi inaayos ang pag-store, iyon iyong medyo isa diyan sa mga puwedeng makukuha natin ang infection."

(An important mode of transmission is through contact with clothes worn by a monkeypox patient, which were not stored properly.)

Solante, however, emphasized the need for sanitation, such as regular washing of hands to prevent further transmission. Personal belongings of confirmed patients must be separated, he added.

Proper handling of waste is also needed for those living with suspected cases of the monkeypox virus, the doctor said.

“Importante na mayroon kang tinatawag na contact precaution – ang paggamit ng gloves at paghugas ng kamay," he said.

(Contact precaution by using gloves and washing hands is important.)

The monkeypox virus can spread from person-to-person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids. It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In addition, pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta, the CDC said. It added that it’s also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by eating meat or using products from an infected animal.

The Philippines last week reported its first monkeypox patient, a 31-year-old Filipino who had travel histories in countries with documented cases of the disease. 

Solante said he saw no need for the government to create a separate task force to address the threat of monkeypox. 

"Mayroon naman tayong agency ‘no, kagaya ng Department of Health, may mga assigned na rin diyan in terms of paghahanda sa monkeypox," he said. 

(We have agencies like the Department of Health, where personnel have been assigned to prepare for monkeypox.) 

Closing the country’s borders to prevent the entry of the monkeypox virus is also not an option at this time, he added.

"Ang importante sa border natin, mayroon tayong monitoring kung sino man iyong darating at kung mag-develop ng symptoms within the next 3 weeks upon arrival," he said. 

(What is important is we have a system of monitoring those who arrive and if they develop symptoms.) 

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