The Philippines presently has no cases of the rare viral monkeypox disease, but the health department is closely watching conditions in other countries where it has been found and stepping up surveillance to prevent it from entering.

The Department of Health (DOH), in a released advisory Friday, classified the monkeypox virus as a contagious disease spread by animals that occurs largely in tropical areas of Central and West Africa and is occasionally transported to other regions.

“In the interest of protecting the general public from both diseases and misinformation, the Department of Health provides this advisory about the recent cases of monkeypox found in European countries, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. To date, monkeypox has not been detected within the Philippines or at its borders,” the DOH said.

A close-up of lesions caused by monkeypox on the arm and leg of a toddler. Infection of a 4-year-old female with a monkeypox-like virus in Bondua, Grand Gedeh County, Liberia. This infection was caused by a pox virus belonging to the types vaccinia, variola, and monkeypox. (This image from Wikipedia is a work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, taken or made as part of an employee’s official duties.)

It stated that signs of monkeypox include fever, rashes, and lymph nodes swelling, which can lead to a variety of medical complications.

The transmission of monkeypox is through direct contact with an infected animal or person with open wounds, as well as through body fluids and respiratory droplets.

“While monkeypox may look like smallpox, it is less contagious and causes less severe illness,” the DOH added.

The health department indicated that adhering to minimum public health requirements, such as wearing the best-fitting mask, providing adequate airflow, keeping hands clean, and maintaining a physical distance, will prevent infection.

“These also protect us against COVID-19. DOH is intensifying screening at our borders and ensuring that surveillance systems are actively monitoring the situation,” the DOH said.