Was the Nigerian man the real first monkeypox case in Thailand?

PHOTO: Monkeypox may have existed already in Thailand. (via CNET)

The head of the Centre for Medical Genomics at Ramathibodi Hospital has addressed what many have questioned in the wild case of the Nigerian man who was diagnosed in Phuket with monkeypox and then fled to Cambodia. This first confirmed case of monkeypox in Thailand was likely contracted inside of the country, suggesting earlier, unidentified cases.

The Nigerian man arrived in Thailand on October 24 and spent some time in Chiang Mai before moving to Phuket where he stayed the majority of his stint in Thailand. According to Dr Wasun Chantratita, the man was in Thailand the entire time, so he must have picked up monkeypox domestically.

On July 16, he went to a private hospital, fearing that he’d contracted a sexually transmitted disease after blisters broke out on his genitals. But two days later the hospital contacted him and instructed him to come in to be treated for monkeypox. He left his condo and checked into several hotels and then was picked up by an accomplice and taken to the border at Sa Kaeo before swimming across the river into Cambodia and eventually making his way to Phnom Penh where Cambodian authorities arrested him and moved him to a hospital for treatment.

There’s now some debate over the fate of the Nigerian man, as Cambodian police plan on prosecuting him for his illegal entry into the country, while the Ministry of Public Health is insisting he be sent back to Thailand to be prosecuted for violating the Communicable Diseases Act.

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Genetic sequencing will now take place to analyse the specific strain of monkeypox that the Nigerian man has and determine its genetic makeup. Victims of monkeypox in Africa and Europe suffer different symptoms due to the different genetic strains of the virus itself, so this analysis provides a look into the original source of the man’s monkeypox and also determines whether he contracted it in Thailand or if he somehow had a dormant case before he arrived in the country.

While monkeypox does have several strains, there is nowhere near the number of mutations that the Covid-19 virus has, meaning that genetic sequencing for monkeypox should be faster. Only then can it be confirmed that the man was infected in Thailand and that there are more undiagnosed or unreported cases of monkeypox within the kingdom.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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