Japan Health Ministry approves smallpox vaccine to curb monkeypox

TOKYO Japan's health ministry has endorsed the use of a smallpox vaccine believed to be effective against monkeypox. The smallpox vaccine approved by the ministry is considered to be 85% effective against monkeypox, health officials said.

The approval came after Japan confirmed two cases of the disease in late July in men in their 30s, who had both traveled abroad, and the government announced preemptive steps to prevent the spread of the disease.

The health ministry is reportedly  researching an oral medicine called tecovirimat that is also used to treat smallpox as a kind of treatment 

Following an incubation period of five to 21 days, the tropical disease's symptoms,  which are spread through intimate personal contact and resemble those of smallpox, include fever, severe rashes, skin lesions, and swollen lymph nodes. 

The health ministry also announced that it is setting up a framework so that local health authorities will be able to conduct monkeypox tests, and it is urging any additional domestic instances of the illness to be reported as soon as possible. Officials will also discuss whether to offer immunizations to medical professionals, laboratory staff, and health centre employees who request them, the ministry said.

A task force to deal with monkeypox outbreak has been formed in Japan. It is headed by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Crisis Management Takashi Murata.

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