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Govt Releases Monkeypox Guidelines On Detecting And Treating The Disease

The monkeypox virus is an orthopoxvirus that causes a disease with symptoms similar to smallpox but less severe. Monkeypox is a zoonosis or a disease transmitted from animals to humans. The virus is commonly found in tropical rainforests, where there are animals that carry the virus.

According to the World Health Organization, there are now 131 cases of monkeypox, and a further 106 suspected cases, in 19 countries. Experts describe the outbreak as "random" but "containable" and believe that it was likely triggered by sexual activity at recent raves in Spain and Belgium.

Govt Releases Monkeypox Guidelines: What You Need To Know

Amidst recent reports of monkeypox in non-endemic countries, the Indian government on Tuesday issued guidelines directing district surveillance units to consider even one case to be an outbreak and to initiate a thorough investigation through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme [1].

In light of the fact that there are over 300 suspected or confirmed cases of monkeypox in non-endemic countries, the Union health ministry on Tuesday released comprehensive guidelines for surveillance, identification, confirmation, and treatment of monkeypox infections in the country. In India, no cases of monkeypox have been reported [2].

Several countries have reported monkeypox cases, including the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Austria, Israel, and Switzerland. In addition to these countries, the disease is endemic in other countries such as Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone [3].

Guidelines to prevent monkeypox outbreak

  • According to the guidelines released by the health ministry, in order to be considered susceptible, a person should have travelled to the affected countries in the last 21 days, have a rash that is unexplained, and have other symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, fever, headache, and body aches.
  • The case will only be confirmed after the PCR test (like the one conducted for Covid-19) or by sequencing the genetic material from the patient's sample sent to the National Institute of Virology-Pune.
  • According to the guidelines, the network must monitor travellers from affected countries for 21 days to determine whether they show symptoms. If so, a sample will be taken.
  • Furthermore, the guidelines provide information on treating skin lesions and dehydration and alleviating symptoms such as fever, itching, nausea, vomiting, headache, and malaise.
  • The instruction states that during isolation, patients should monitor for symptoms such as pain in the eyes and blurry vision, shortness of breath and chest pain, altered consciousness, seizures, decreased urinary output, poor dietary intake, and lethargy.
  • In the case of a confirmed case, the contacts will be monitored for 21 days, with samples collected in the event of symptoms.
  • During the period of isolation, asymptomatic contacts are not permitted to donate blood, cells, tissue, organs, or semen. According to the guidelines, pre-school students who are a contact may be excluded from daycare, nursery, or other group settings.
  • International travellers to countries reporting cases of monkeypox have been advised to avoid coming into close contact with sick individuals and live or dead wild animals. Furthermore, they have been asked not to consume wild animal meat or use products that contain it.
  • Airport health authorities have also been requested to familiarize themselves with the symptoms of monkeypox and to conduct strict thermal screenings and travel history checks.

Monkey Pox In India

Dr Aparna Mukherjee, Scientist C, ICMR, states in an exclusive interview with ANI that "India is prepared for the epidemic as it spreads rapidly in non-endemic countries such as Europe and the United States, and others. However, no cases have yet been reported in India" [4].

Health experts pointed out that you should be alert to any unusual symptoms, particularly if you have travelled to monkeypox infected countries in the past.

Monkeypox is a slow-mutating DNA virus that is transmitted through large respiratory droplets. The virus is transmitted by prolonged close contact with the patient. It can also be spread by bodily fluids, contaminated clothes, and linens from an infected individual. There is a possibility that the symptoms will appear five to 21 days after infection, with the person becoming infectious or capable of transmitting the virus, one or two days before the skin rashes appear until after they fall off [5][6].

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the government's medical body, reported that no cases of monkeypox had been reported in India. However, the government is closely monitoring the situation. The ICMR reported that children are at a higher risk of contracting monkeypox.

"Kids are more susceptible to the monkeypox infection. The elderly people would be vaccinated with the smallpox vaccine. After the 1980s, people who did not get the smallpox vaccine that gives cross-immunity to fight against the infection, so the younger people will be more susceptible," Dr Aparna Mukherjee, ICMR scientist, said.

According to a leading US health expert, monkeypox is unlikely to lead to a worldwide pandemic similar to Covid-19. According to Dr Faheem Younus on Twitter, monkeypox cases are concerning, but the likelihood of it becoming a pandemic is zero per cent, given that it is not a novel disease, as was the case with SARS-CoV-2 [7].

On A Final Note...

Although no cases have been reported in India, the central and state governments are closely monitoring this emerging medical challenge.

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