11 July 2024

The Nigerian man, who was confirmed to be Thailand’s first and so far only monkeypox case, may have contracted the virus in the country, said Dr. Wasun Chantratita, chief of the Centre for Medical Genomics at Ramathibodi Hospital.

The professor’s opinion is based on his study of the Nigerian’s timeline, from his arrival in Thailand on October 24th, 2021 until the confirmation of his infection and eventual departure for Cambodia last week.

The Nigerian spent some time in Chiang Mai after entering Thailand, but spent most of his time in Phuket. On July 16th he visited a hospital in Phuket with a suspected STD, after he developed blisters on his genitals. Two days later, he was told by an official at the hospital that he needed treatment for monkeypox, but he failed to show up and was subsequently discovered to have departed for Cambodia. He was located by Cambodian officials and taken to a hospital for treatment.

Dr. Wasun believes that the monkeypox virus may have already existed in Thailand and that the only way to prove his theory is by means of genetic sequencing, to decode the genetic makeup of the specific strain of the virus.

Different strains of virus cause different symptoms and the symptoms of patients in Europe are different from those in Africa. The most important thing about genetic sequencing is that it will provide an answer as to whether the Nigerian was infected before or after his arrival in Thailand.

The sequencing process may take some time, but it is still quicker than COVID-19 virus sequencing, because there are so many COVID variants and sub-variants.

Spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health Dr. Rungruang Kitpati said that the Nigerian should be returned to Thailand after his recovery for prosecution for violating the Communicable Diseases Act.

Cambodian police, however, say that the Nigerian will not be sent back to Thailand, but may face prosecution in Cambodian for illegal entry.