Kerala reports India’s first monkeypox case | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Kerala reports India’s first monkeypox case

By, , New Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram
Jul 15, 2022 12:18 AM IST

The patient, hailing from Kollam district, arrived in Kerala from the UAE on July 12 and subjected himself for treatment the same day after his close contact in the West Asian country tested positive for monkeypox, state health minister Veena George said.

A man from Kerala who recently returned from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was on Thursday confirmed as India’s first case of monkeypox, prompting the Union government to depute a high-level multi-disciplinary team to the southern state.

Health workers inspect passengers arriving from high risk countries for monkeypox symptoms, at Chennai International Airport. (ANI)
Health workers inspect passengers arriving from high risk countries for monkeypox symptoms, at Chennai International Airport. (ANI)

Kerala health minister Veena George told reporters that the case was confirmed through the testing of the samples of the symptomatic person at the National Institute of Virology, Pune.

“All those who came in contact with the man have been isolated and they are being closely observed,” George said.

Also Read | First monkeypox case reported in India: Symptoms, treatment and vaccines

The man, hailing from Kollam district, arrived in Kerala from the UAE on July 12 and subjected himself for treatment the same day after his close contact in the West Asian country tested positive for monkeypox, the minister said.

She said after reaching his home in Kollam, the man visited a private hospital there. He was referred to the Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram where the doctors suspected he was showing symptoms of monkeypox. His samples were collected and sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune for testing, George said.

She added that all his close contacts have been identified.

“He told us he was well covered during his flight to Thiruvananthapuram. But we have identified 11 persons who sat near his seat besides some crew members of the flight,” she said, adding that his route map since arrival was prepared.

A taxi driver and staff of the private hospital where he sought treatment first and his relatives were also quarantined, George added.

The country’s first case of the viral zoonotic disease was reported on a day when the Centre asked states to ensure screening and testing of all suspect cases at points of entry and in the community as part of the country’s preparedness against the disease.

Also Read | Centre issues advisory for states amid surge in global monkeypox cases

A Union health ministry official said the central team will help the state government in investigating the outbreak and also to execute containment measures.

“In view of report of confirmation of a case of monkeypox disease from Kollam district, Kerala, it has been decided to depute them following multi-disciplinary central team to support state government of Kerala in investigating the outbreak and institute requisite public health measures,” said an office memorandum issued by Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, Union health ministry.

The Central team to Kerala comprises experts drawn from the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr RML Hospital, New Delhi, and senior official from the ministry of health along with experts from the regional office of health and family welfare, Kerala.

“The team shall work closely with the state health departments and take a stock of on-ground situation and recommend necessary public health interventions,” said health ministry in a statement.

Earlier, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan issued an advisory to all state governments to intensify vigil against monkey pox disease at international entry points, hospitals, and high-risk areas as cases are on the rise globally.

“Continued expansion of spread of monkeypox disease globally calls for proactive strengthening and operationalization of requisite public health actions for preparedness and response against the disease in India also,” Bhushan wrote.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) this is the first time that cases and clusters are being reported concurrently in five WHO regions, which made the UN health body assess the overall risk of spread of cases as “moderate” at global level.

According to the WHO, monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe. It is usually a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting two to four weeks.

Experts said monkeypox virus mutates at a higher rate but is treatable after observing symptoms. The infection starts with fever, headache and flu. As infection turns acute, red lesions will appear on body and an itching-like chicken pox is triggered. The incubation period ranges from five to 21 days, they said.

“It is not a fatal virus but the only concern is its high mutation rate. Human to human infection rate is not high like Covid. Only those who come in close contact with an infected can be infected,” said internal medicine and public health expert Dr N M Arun.

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