New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: India on Monday reported its first monkeypox death. A 22-year-old man, with no typical symptoms, had tested positive in the United Arab Emirates before flying home to Kerala on July 21. Following this, the Union health ministry has formed a task force to monitor the emerging situation.
He first sought treatment at a hospital in Ernakulam after he developed minor symptoms. He was admitted to a hospital in Thrissur on July 27, but there will still no obvious symptoms. His condition deteriorated on Friday and he died on Saturday.
Around 20 people who had come into contact with him, including family, friends and medical staff, are under quarantine in Thrissur. The monkeypox was confirmed on Monday following tests at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune. Kerala health minister Veena George has directed officials to investigate the matter.
“This particular variant of monkeypox is not as highly virulent or contagious like Covid-19, but it does spread. Comparatively, the mortality rate of this variant is low. Therefore, we will examine why the 22-year-old man died in this particular case as he had no other illness or health problems,” the minister said.
The Union health ministry has formed a task force to monitor the monkeypox scenario and suggest response initiatives to tackle its spread. The task force will be headed by Dr V.K. Paul, Niti Aayog member (health), and will include officials from the National Aids Control Organisation, DGHS and ICMR. It will provide guidance to the government on expansion of diagnostic facilities in the country and explore emerging trends related to vaccination for the disease. ICMR has been asked to make arrangements for diagnostics of the monkeypox disease in case of a major outbreak.
WHO says monkeypox is a viral zoonosis — a virus transmitted to humans from animals – which has symptoms similar to smallpox, although clinically less severe. Monkeypox typically manifests itself with fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to a range of medical complications. It is usually a self-limiting disease, with symptoms lasting for two to four weeks.