Bridgetown, Barbados, (PAHO/WHO) – In May 2022, multiple cases of monkeypox were identified in several non-endemic countries. To update Member States on the situation, the PAHO/WHO Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries (ECC) hosted an information session on monkeypox for all Ministry of Health focal points on 1 June 2022.

This information session brought together key PAHO/WHO experts in the areas of disease and clinical management, infection prevention and control, laboratory and surveillance as well as communication. 

To continue support of country preparedness, from 24 June 2022, PAHO has provided laboratory reagents to Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

These reagents included primers and probes for Monkeypox Virus polymerase chain reaction (MPXV PCR), sufficient for conducting 400 tests.

On 28 June, PAHO hosted a virtual training session for Barbados and the ECC on protocols for molecular diagnosis of monkeypox, over 90 participants were in attendance. 

Follow-up meetings were also held with Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and St. Kitts and Nevis to plan for implementation and/or review of laboratory data.

Currently all countries have the capacity to diagnose for Monkeypox.  Samples have already been processed in the laboratories of Barbados, Dominica, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines; dry runs completed, and results shared with PAHO.

These laboratories are now ready to diagnose suspected cases.

PAHO will continue to provide MPXV specific reagents and technical support to national laboratories in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease caused by the monkeypox virus, a member of the Orthopoxvirus genus, this includes the variola virus (which causes smallpox). 

Monkeypox is characterized by rash or skin lesions that are usually concentrated on the face, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet.