India steps up monitoring for monkeypox as fourth case confirmed

Spread of the viral infection has been declared a global public health emergency

A nurse prepares an isolation ward for monkeypox patients at a government hospital in Hyderabad, southern India. AFP
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India’s Health Ministry announced enhanced measures to track the spread of monkeypox after a fourth case was identified in the country.

The viral disease once considered endemic to parts of Africa has spread across the world in recent months, with about 16,000 people infected in more than 70 countries, most of them in Europe and North America.

The World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on Saturday.

Officials from India's Directorate General of Health Sciences, the National Centre for Disease Control and the Indian Council of Medical Research met on Sunday to review the situation, a day after a 34-year-old man in New Delhi was confirmed as the country's fourth case.

The patient, who the ministry said had no history of travel abroad, had reportedly returned to Delhi from a stag party in the hill resort of Manali in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh state.

He tested positive for monkeypox after going to a private hospital with fever and a rash. He was then isolated at the capital's Lok Nayak Hospital.

“The case is presently recovering,” the ministry said. “The close contacts of the case have been identified and are under quarantine.”

India's first case of monkeypox was detected in Kerala on July 15, followed by two more in the southern state.

Veena George, Kerala’s Health Minister, on Monday said that all three patients were in a stable condition but remained in isolation and none of their primary contacts had tested positive so far.

Monkeypox originates in wild animals such as rodents and primates and occasionally jumps to people.

It belongs to the same virus family as smallpox, although with its clinical severity is less.

According to the WHO, it is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets.

It is a self-limited disease, with symptoms that last from two to four weeks.

While severe cases can occur, in recent times, the case fatality ratio has been between 3 per cent and 6 per cent.

Updated: July 25, 2022, 10:45 AM