Kota Pekanbaru (ANTARA) - Riau's provincial government has strengthened its prevention and detection mechanism for visitors at its seaports and airport to prevent the spread of monkeypox after Singapore recently reported its first case of this rare virus.

"We have urged the Pekanbaru-based port's health authorities to step up their inspection on passengers recently arriving from Singapore to stop the spread of monkeypox," Head of the Riau Health Office Mimi Yuliani Nazir remarked here on Wednesday.

Passengers arriving from Batam Island were also screened since several of them might have visited and returned from Singapore. Hence, monitoring will be conducted at seaports having access to Batam, she remarked.

"This policy has been put in place to control and stop the spread of this rare virus. The Riau Health Office and all health service providers will stay vigilant and conduct inspection," she remarked, adding that no cases of monkeypox had been reported until now in Riau Province.

The United Nations World Health Organization's (WHO's) fact sheet describes monkeypox as a rare viral zoonosis, or a virus spread to humans from animals, that is endemic to the remote areas of central and west Africa, close to tropical rainforests.

The monkeypox virus causes a viral disease with symptoms in humans similar, but milder to those seen in smallpox patients. Nonetheless, monkeypox can be potentially deadly.

Monkeypox virus belongs to the orthopoxvirus genus in the family poxviridae and largely spread from various wild animals, such as rodents and primates, to people, but has limited secondary spread through human-to-human transmission.

No particular treatment or vaccination is presently available, though prior smallpox inoculation was found to be increasingly effective in also preventing monkeypox.

According to the WHO, monkeypox was first detected in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, earlier known as Zaire, in a boy aged nine in a region where smallpox had been eradicated in 1968.

Thereafter, most cases were reported in rural and rainforest regions of the Congo Basin and western Africa, specifically in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it is viewed as being endemic.

Translator: Frislidia, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Bambang Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2019