How Worried Should You Be about Monkeypox in Malaysia?

Without prevention and public awareness, there is a risk of getting infected with monkeypox in Malaysia. Learn the symptoms and what you can do to prevent it.

A woman checking red rashes on her neck in the mirror

After more than two years of seeing coronavirus updates in the news, the World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared a new global health emergency for monkeypox. As of 2 August 2022, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has reported no cases of monkeypox in Malaysia.

A total of 14 monkeypox cases are in Southeast Asia, with no reported deaths so far. Learning from the recent pandemic, researchers have been working to figure out what the virus mutations are to curb infection rates.

Should you be worried about monkeypox in Malaysia? If you’re getting ready to travel or engage in public settings, you may have several questions and concerns. It’s important to know the origin and symptoms of the disease to avoid confusion.

Monkeypox Explained

Monkeypox is a rare infection caused by the monkeypox virus of the Orthopoxvirus genus. It’s similar to smallpox, only with less severe symptoms. However, it is not related to chickenpox, which is caused by the Varicella-zoster virus. 

The virus was first discovered in 1958 when an outbreak occurred in laboratory monkeys. The first human outbreak was recovered in 1970. Since then, most cases have occurred in people around central and western African countries.

Two hands with pustular skin and rashes from monkeypox virus 
To monitor cases of monkeypox in Malaysia, the Health Minister advises travellers to update their health status on the MySejahtera app regularly.

Symptoms of monkeypox 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monkeypox symptoms begin three weeks after initial exposure to the virus. The first signs would be flu-like symptoms, such as: 

  • Chills 
  • Fever 
  • Fatigue 
  • Body aches 
  • Headache 
  • Swollen lymph nodes 

After a few days, a rash may develop. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine determines skin rashes to be the most common symptom of monkeypox. The rash can be present with lesions. In most cases, inflamed skin appears anywhere on the body, including the mouth, vagina, and anus.

In comparison to the itchy blisters of chickenpox, monkeypox is characterised by painful, flat, red bumps that may turn into pus-filled blisters. After a few weeks, these blisters crust over and dry out. 

Do keep in mind that not everyone will experience the same symptoms. In fact, the current 2022 monkeypox outbreak isn’t following the current pattern of symptoms. Additionally, a new study in London reports rectal pain and penile swelling as unprecedented symptoms of monkeypox. 

Several infected people may only have a few lesions with no swollen lymph nodes. Meanwhile, others may have lesions followed by symptoms, and others only experience a rash. 

Is there monkeypox in Malaysia? 

The virus is highly infectious as it spreads from person to person through close contact. You can contract it by coming into contact with an infected person’s respiratory droplets from sneezing or coughing, rash, scabs, and even objects they have touched.

The virus can also be spread by encountering infected animals, such as rodents and primates.

It’s best to wear your mask indoors and practise physical distancing to deal with monkeypox in Malaysia and if you’re travelling to other countries with reported cases. Use a zero-touch tool which can help you open doors and click buttons without touching commonly used surfaces. Avoid interacting with wildlife and ensure to eat fully cooked meat and poultry products.

Is it deadly? 

Monkeypox has a low fatality rate, ranging from 1% to 10%. At the time of writing this article, India has reported Asia’s first monkeypox death. In rare cases, the infection can lead to more severe complications if left untreated. These include brain infections, pneumonia, and eye infections

What to Do If You Catch Monkeypox

Firstly, check for symptoms. See If there is a swollen area around your neck and jaw. Swollen lymph nodes usually distinguish monkeypox from other viruses. Then, update your health status on the MySejahtera app and visit the nearest hospital. Your doctor will perform tests to rule out measles or chickenpox. They will take a sample from an open sore or lesion for a proper diagnosis. You may also undergo a blood test.

According to the CDC, there’s no specific treatment for monkeypox. Your doctor may recommend tecovirimat (TPOXX), an antiviral drug that may help prevent you from getting severely ill. Other treatments will focus on managing your symptoms.

In most cases, no treatment is necessary as the virus will run its course within two to four weeks. Because there’s no vaccine available for monkeypox in Malaysia or other countries, another option would be getting the smallpox vaccine, which has an 85% efficacy against the virus.

A person inserting a syringe needle to draw a patient’s blood
Monkeypox in Malaysia can be diagnosed through a PCR test or blood test.

Monkeypox in Traditional Chinese Medicine Practice 

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, monkeypox is an acute infection of contagious exogenous pathogens that bears the characteristics of Wind, Fire, and Dampness.

Real Health Senior TCM physician Brandon Yew says, “The organ that is mainly affected is the Lungs, which oversee the health of the respiratory tract and skin. This explains the respiratory flu-like symptoms and characteristic skin rash when one is infected with the monkeypox virus. Other organs that may be affected in severe cases are the Heart, Spleen, and Liver.” 

How Can TCM Help with Monkeypox? 

TCM can effectively manage the symptoms of monkeypox and help with recovery through herbal medication, acupuncture, and blood-letting.

However, Physician Yew explains that a licensed practitioner should formulate each treatment and medication. A patient may need different treatments as each person has a unique body constitution. Do bear in mind that the herbal formulas provided are meant for varying pathological states of monkeypox and post-disease.

Herbal formulas to try if symptoms persist 

TCM remedies can supplement the prescribed medications from your doctor for monkeypox treatments. Below are some TCM herbal formulas that can help manage the symptoms during an acute infection:  

  • Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang (升麻葛根汤) – dispels Wind and Fire toxins from the Lungs and Skin  
  • Xie Huang San (泻黄散) – alleviates Dampness and Fire toxins from the Lungs, Skin and Spleen  
  • Sheng Jiang San (升降散) – purges Wind, Fire toxins, Phlegm, Stagnated Qi, and Blood clots from the Lungs, Skin, and Liver  
  • Zi Xue San (紫雪散) – dispels Fire toxins, Dampness and Stagnated Qi from the Lungs and Skin, and soothes the Heart and Liver  
  • Qing Ying Tang (清营汤) – neutralises Fire toxins and Blood clots from the Heart; replenishes Yin to nourish and calm the Heart and Liver  
  • Sheng Ma Bie Jia Tang (升麻鳖甲汤) – dispels Fire toxins and Blood clots from the Lungs, Skin, Heart, and Liver  
  • Xuan Bai Cheng Qi Tang (宣白承气汤) – purges Fire toxins and Phlegm from the Lungs and Skin  

Herbal formulas for post-recovery 

Below are some TCM herbal formulas that can help you regain energy, clear any lingering symptoms, and boost your immune system:  

  • Sheng Mai San (生脉散) – replenishes lost Qi and Yin energies of the Lungs and Heart  
  • Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang (香砂六君子汤) – regenerates Spleen Qi; dispels residual Dampness and Phlegm  
  • Qin Jiao Bie Jia San (秦艽鳖甲散) – dispels residual Fire and regenerates lost Yin to nourish the Lungs, Heart, and Liver  
  • Bu Yang Huan Wu Tang (补阳还五汤) – dispels residual Blood clots and regenerates Qi of the Lungs, Spleen, and Heart  
  • Ba Zhen Tang (八珍汤) – replenishes lost Qi and Blood of the Lungs, Heart, Spleen, and Liver  

According to Physician Yew, “All of the herbal remedies listed can individually address the various symptoms of monkeypox. Each corresponds to the different pathological combinations and states underlying the virus.” 

Try stimulating acupressure points 

It’s a costless self-remedy you can do at home. Start by placing your fingers at specific acupoints. Apply an appropriate amount of pressure to elicit a tolerable sensation of soreness or tenderness. At the same time, massage in both clockwise and anticlockwise circular motions, 20 times each. Repeat for at least three minutes per acupoint.

The acupoints that might help are:  

  • To relieve fever – Chi ze (LU5, 尺泽), qu chi (LI11, 曲池), he gu (LI4, 合谷), nei guan (PC 6, 内关), xue hai (SP10, 血海), and tai chong (LR3, 太冲) 
  • For a sore throat – Chi ze (LU5, 尺泽), qu chi (LI11, 曲池), and he gu (LI4, 合谷) 
  • To reduce skin lesions – Chi ze (LU5, 尺泽), qu chi (LI11, 曲池), nei guan (PC6, 内关), xue hai (SP10, 血海), yin ling quan (SP9, 阴陵泉), and tai chong (LR3, 太冲) 
  • For body aches – Qu chi (LI11, 曲池), he gu (LI4, 合谷), xue hai (SP10, 血海), yin ling quan (SP9, 阴陵泉), and zu san li (ST36, 足三里) 
  • For headaches – Qu chi (LI11, 曲池), he gu (LI4, 合谷), and tai chong (LR3, 太冲) 
  • To alleviate fatigue – He gu (LI4, 合谷), nei guan (PC6, 内关), Yin Ling Quan (SP9, 阴陵泉), and zu san li (ST36, 足三里) 
  • To enhance appetite – Nei guan (PC6, 内关), yin ling quan (SP9, 阴陵泉), and zu san li (ST36, 足三里) 

Do take note that acupressure provides very mild symptomatic relief. As most people suffering from monkeypox have skin rashes, gently apply pressure to the points to avoid wounding the skin. 

As long as you follow precautions, monkeypox in Malaysia should not be a cause of panic. There’ll be more updates coming from local authorities and researchers, of course. But until then, the best approach to prevent being infected is doing what you have been doing these past two years: wearing a face mask when in public areas, practising good hygiene and keeping an eye on your health. If you feel you have more than two symptoms stated above, we strongly recommend you seek professional medical help from a medical doctor or a certified TCM practitioner.

This is an adaptation of an article, “All You Need to Know About Monkey Pox”, which first appeared on All Things Health’s US website. 

References

  1. CDC. 2022. Monkey Pox. [Accessed 3 August 2022] 
  2. CDC. 2022. 2022 Monkeypox Outbreak Global Map. [Accessed 3 August 2022] 
  3. Science.org. 2022. WHO chief declares monkeypox an international emergency after expert panel fails to reach consensus. [Accessed 3 August 2022] 
  4. United Nations News. 2022. Monkeypox: How it spreads, who’s at risk – here’s what you need to know. [Accessed 3 August 2022] 
  5. The BMJ. 2022. Clinical features and novel presentations of human monkeypox in a central London centre during the 2022 outbreak: descriptive case series. [Accessed 3 August 2022]  
  6. Malaysia Now. 2022. Nine suspected monkeypox cases confirmed negative, says Khairy. [Accessed 3 August 2022] 
  7. New Straits Times. 2022. Malaysia still free of monkeypox, says Khairy. [Accessed 3 August 2022] 
  8. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2022. Monkeypox Virus Infection in Humans across 16 Countries — April–June 2022. [Accessed 3 August 2022] 
  9. The Lancet. 2022. Clinical features and management of human monkeypox: a retrospective observational study in the UK. [Accessed 3 August 2022] 
  10. Nature. 2022. Monkeypox vaccination begins — can the global outbreaks be contained? [Accessed 3 August 2022] 

Share this article on

Was This Article Useful to You?

Related Articles

Man holding post covid-19 signboard in front of a laptop
Health & Balance

Post COVID Syndrome: How to Cope with it

Post Covid Syndrome continues long after recovery from COVID infection. Patients share their experiences and how they coped with them in this article.

Read More
Woman struggling to breathe while holding her chest with her left hand and head with her right
Health & Balance

Quiz: Identify Your Asthma Attack Type

Different people can present with distinct asthma attack symptoms. Learning how to manage your specific disease type will help you live worry-free. 

Read More
Woman touches her chin with hormonal acne lesions.
Health & Balance

Here’s What You Can Do About Hormonal Acne

Hormonal fluctuations or imbalance can cause overproduction of oil in your skin leading to hormonal acne. Fortunately, there are natural solutions you can try.

Read More

The contents of the All Things Health website are for informational and educational purposes only.
Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.