India has reported the first monkeypox case with a traveller from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who arrived in Kerala three days ago testing positive for the viral disease, confirmed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday. Union Health Ministry rushed a high-level multi-disciplinary team to Kerala to collaborate with the state health authorities in instituting public health measures in view of the confirmed case of monkeypox in Kollam district of Kerala.
The Central team to Kerala comprised experts drawn from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr RML Hospital, New Delhi and senior officials from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare 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 stock of the on-ground situation and recommend necessary public health interventions. The Centre is taking proactive steps by monitoring the situation carefully and coordinating with states in case of any such possibility of an outbreak occurs, said the Ministry of Health.
"No need to panic as the centre has given fresh directions to all the states and Union Territories regarding monkeypox. It spreads through close contact with lesions, body fluids, prolonged contact with Respiratory Droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding," official sources told ANI.
Kerala Health Minister Veena George said, "A Monkeypox positive case has been reported. He is a traveller from UAE. He reached the state on July 12. He reached Trivandrum airport and all the steps are being taken as per the guidelines issued by WHO and ICMR."
Meanwhile, the Centre on Thursday wrote a letter to all the states and union territories, reiterating some of the key actions that are required to contain the spread of the disease.
Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan cited the letter sent by the ministry on May 31 in which it had issued a comprehensive 'Guidelines for Management of Monkeypox Disease'
The health secretary asked all the states and union territories to take key actions like orientation and regular re-orientation of all key stakeholders including health screening teams at points of entries (PoEs), disease surveillance teams, doctors working in hospitals about common signs and symptoms, differential diagnosis, case definitions for s for suspect/probable/confirmed cases and contacts, contact tracing and other surveillance activities that need to be undertaken following the detection of a case, testing, IPC protocols, clinical management etc.
He further asked to screen and test all suspect cases at points of entries and in the community.
"Patient isolation (until all lesions have resolved and scabs have completely fallen off), protection of ulcers, symptomatic and supportive therapies, continued monitoring and timely treatment of complications remain the key measures to prevent mortality," he said.
Bhushan said that the intensive risk communication directed at healthcare workers, identified sites in health facilities (such as skin, paediatric OPDs, immunization clinics, intervention sites identified by NACO etc.) as well as the general public about simple preventive strategies and the need for prompt reporting of cases needs to be undertaken.
The hospitals must be identified and adequate human resource and logistic support should be ensured at identified hospitals equipped to manage suspect/confirmed cases of Monkeypox.
According to World Health Organization (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.
Monkeypox is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus. It is usually a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting from two to four weeks, WHO said.
Monkeypox virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.
As reported by WHO, since January 1, 2022 and as of June 22, 2022, a total of 3,413 laboratory confirmed cases of Monkeypox and one death have been reported to WHO from 50 countries/territories.
The majority of these cases have been reported from the European Region (86 per cent) and the Americas (11 per cent). This points to a slow but sustained increase in the spread of cases globally. Considering this is the first time that cases and clusters are being reported concurrently in five WHO Regions, WHO has assessed the overall risk of spread of cases as "Moderate" at the global level.