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First Asian monkeypox death occurs in India

India has reported Asia’s first monkeypox related death, just the fourth death to occur as a result of the current global outbreak.

One of the symptoms of monkeypox are lesions that can develop across the body. (CDC’s Public Health Image Library) Media ID #2329

A young man in the state of Kerala was confirmed as of Saturday to be the first death to occur in India. Kerala’s revenue minister told reporters that the government had isolated 21 people who had come in contact with the man before his unfortunate death. “The person reached Kerala on July 21 but visited a hospital only on July 26 when he displayed fatigue and fever,” Minister K. Rajan said.

The man had recently returned from the United Arab Emirates, where he had already tested positive for monkeypox before returning home to India. Currently, Kerala has recorded five of India’s eight cases, with all of them being linked to foreign travel. Delhi has recorded three cases, with one so far linked to domestic travel.

The caseload currently numbers at just eight, indicating that the situation may largely be under control, with figures not currently increasing at a rapid pace. However, this may not be the case, as there is the possibility that domestic spread of monkeypox is already occurring, but going unmonitored. 

As Health Issues India recently reported, the fourth instance of monkeypox in India occurred in a 31-year-old man in Delhi. The man had attended a party in Manali in Himachal Pradesh according to officials, noting that the individual had no recent record of international travel. This has raised fears that there may be undetected cases in Himachal Pradesh currently spreading unchecked.

The Government has noted that they have put in place precautionary measures and used tactics learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to enhance surveillance and containment procedures. 

“Monkeypox is not a new disease in India and in the world, since 1970 a lot of cases are being seen in Africa. After the cases began to increase from the month of May, WHO then took cognisance of the issue and paid special attention to this. Monitoring has started in India as well. This disease is spread through deep contact, doesn’t happen to any specific community each and everyone is vulnerable. When cases started appearing in the world, India had already started preparations,” said Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.

The Government has issued advice to help in curbing the outbreak, with suggestions such as isolation and reporting of those infected. Further suggestions such as not sharing bedsheets with anyone suspected of being infected have also been issued. 

While the outbreak is currently isolated to a small number of individuals in India, the potential for domestic transmission leading to a more widespread outbreak is crucial to keep in mind. Early, and thorough response to monkeypox could be key in preventing a major issue within India.

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