The West Bengal government has issued a warning in all districts after reports from New Delhi about the possible return of smallpox, considered eradicated from the world 30 years ago, along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
The West Bengal Director of Health Services Sanchita Bakshi said border security agencies have been asked to monitor if anyone is entering India with fever, one of the symptoms of the disease.
Local reports said the alert has been sounded in the state after receiving a message from the foreign ministry on Thursday about the outbreak of smallpox and measles along the borders of Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) airport authorities have also been informed about the danger and asked to screen the passengers arriving from Bangladesh and Myanmar.
State health department sources said any passenger arriving with fever and rashes from these two countries would be quarantined and tested.
A high alert has been sounded in the Indo-Bangladesh border districts. However, Bangladesh authorities have not yet confirmed any case of small pox and said they have been investigating the situation.
All hospitals and offices of the chief medical officer of health (CMOH) in West Bengal districts have also been alerted, local reports said.
Smallpox is a contagious human disease, which is believed to have been eradicated from India over three decades ago. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared India a smallpox free country in 1977. The last case of smallpox in India was reported in May 1975 in Bihar when around 1,400 people were infected.
Smallpox is caused by the attack of two types of viral strains - variola major and variola minor. The early symptoms of the disease are high temperature, body ache and headache. In a few days, red spots appear in the mouth and tongue and break open into sores. Later, the spots become fluid-filled bumps that turn into pustules.