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Sunday, May 26, 2024

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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Monkeypox Alert

In early May this year, occurrence of a disease suspected to be similar to smallpox was noticed firstly in Africa but subsequently in Europe, U.S, Israel, Australia and beyond. Towards May end, World Health Organization (WHO) reported that nearly 200 cases of monkeypox in 20 countries have been detected but described the epidemic as containable. In central and western Africa, people have been mainly infected by animals like wild rodents and primates. Symptoms of a disease are fever and body aches. Countries like Britain, Germany, Canada and the US are studying the possibility of curbing the outbreak and observing whether smallpox vaccines might be useful and issue guidance soon. In affluent countries, majority of infections to date have been confined to gay and bisexual men, that is, men who have sex with men. Scientists have issued warning that since full information is not yet available there is possibility that unless necessary precautions are taken the situation may escalate. Even figures given may not be accurate and may be higher than reported. WHO also warned that anyone is at potential risk of the disease regardless of their sexual behaviour. Just because threat to general population so far is negligible, people cannot afford to be complacent since disease which is air borne can spread easily.

State governments should be cautious and remain alert on the possibility of viral disease carried by travelers abroad who return home. For example, Tamil Nadu government has issued strict warnings to those who have travelled outside during early May to a country with suspected cases of monkeypox and they should be isolated at healthcare facilities for supervision and proper treatment for about two to four weeks until everything becomes normal. According to National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, all precautionary measures are to be strictly followed and regular surveillance is necessary as Central and West African regions are similar to some places of Southern India. If any suspicion is noticed, laboratory samples of fluid from vehicles, blood and sputum should be sent to National Institute of Virus (NIV), Pune, Maharashtra for testing. If test proves positive then, as in case of Covid-19 pandemic, all contact cases within last 21 days should be traced and identified for necessary treatment as symptoms usually last from two to four weeks.

According to latest information, more than 700 people worldwide have been infected, as per report of Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. Nations have been urged not to take monkeypox disease lightly because it might spread fast since virus is contagious and airborne. If any unusual rash is noticed, patients should not delay but immediately report to physicians. So far none of the North East (NE) states has reported any monkey pox cases.

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