New Delhi: Monkeypox virus is blooming into a global threat, with over 20 countries reporting the zoonotic cases, the concern of this virus is ebbing in India as a 22-year-old youth who died in Thrissur (Kerala) tested positive for monkeypox, days after he returned from the UAE. As the COVID-19 pandemic still continues adding to it is monkeypox, the new zoonotic virus is seen as exasperation among many, as the outbreak has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 21,148 cases that have been reported from 78 countries. In view of the increasing reports of monkeypox cases in non-endemic countries, as part of a proactive and risk-based approach to the management of monkeypox and to ensure advanced preparedness across the country, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued ‘Guidelines on Management of Monkeypox Disease’.
WHO’s assessment is that the risk of monkeypox is moderate globally and in all regions, except in the European region where we assess the risk as high.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO issued a statement on July 23, “Although I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern, for the moment this is an outbreak that is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners.”
“That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups.”
“It’s therefore essential that all countries work closely with communities of men who have sex with men, to design and deliver effective information and services, and to adopt measures that protect the health, human rights and dignity of affected communities, stated Ghebreyesus.
India has four confirmed cases of monkeypox, three reported from Kerala where international travel was involved and one case was reported from Delhi without any travel history. A monkeypox-related death was reported and on July 31, the victim, a 22-year-old died in Kerala and had tested positive for monkeypox. A high-level probe has been initiated by Veena George, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Government of Kerala. The Kerala health department had sent the youth’s samples to the National Institute of Virology’s (NIV’s) Kerala Unit in Alappuzha. The central ministry is yet to issue a statement on the same.
Deaths due to monkeypox have been reported in Africa, Brazil and Spain. Dr Vinod Scaria, Scientist, CSIR-Institute of Genomics & Integrative Biology (IGIB) tweeted, “Kerala MPX genomes belong to A.2 in contrast to majority of the genomes across the world which belongs to B.1 lineage.”
In 2022 so far 10 deaths have been confirmed globally. A task force on monkeypox has been constituted, headed by Dr VK Paul, NITI Aayog member (health). The National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) and the Directorate General of Health Services in the Health Ministry. The task force will closely monitor the emerging situation in the country and decide on response initiatives to tackle the spread of the disease.
The monkeypox task force will provide guidance to the government on the expansion of diagnostic facilities across the country and explore emerging trends related to vaccination for the disease. The decision to constitute the task force was taken at a high-level meeting held on July 26 at the level of the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister to review the ongoing public health preparedness in the country.