Updated: Sun, 24 Jul 2022 08:45 PM IST
WHO has declared monkeypox a global public health emergency of international concern after its cases saw a rapid surge. India has so far detected four cases of the disease, 3 from Kerala and the most recent one from Delhi. As the cases are rising in the nation, experts have asked people not to panic as monkeypox is less contagious and rarely fatal.
A monkeypox outbreak can effectively be tackled by strong surveillance. The virus spread can be contained by isolation of confirmed cases and quarantine of contacts, believe experts.
Chief of Covid Working Group of NTAGI Dr N K Arora said there is no need to panic because the disease is less infectious and rarely fatal. But individuals with immunocompromised states need to be particularly careful, he said.
"Even though its spread is a matter of concern, there is no need to panic. The virus can be contained by strong surveillance, isolation of confirmed cases, contact-tracing," he told news agency PTI.
Senior scientist at Pune's National Institute of Virology (NIV) Dr Pragya Yadav said the monkeypox virus is an enveloped double-stranded DNA virus having two distinct genetic clades -- the central African (Congo Basin) clade and the West African clade.
"The recent outbreak which has affected several countries leading to a worrisome situation is caused by the West African strain which is less severe than the Congo lineage reported earlier. The cases reported in India are also of the less severe west African lineage," she told news agency PTI.
Epidemiologist and infectious diseases physician Dr Chandrakant Lahariya said monkeypox is not a new virus. It has been present globally for five decades, and there is a reasonable understanding of its viral structure, transmission and pathogenicity, he added.
"The virus causes mostly mild illness. It is less contagious and requires close personal contact with symptomatic individuals in contrast to the SARS-CoV-2 which had a respiratory spread and a high proportion of asymptomatic cases.
"There is every reason, as of now, to believe that a monkeypox outbreak can effectively be tackled and the virus contained by isolation of confirmed cases, quarantine of contacts and the use of authorised smallpox vaccines as 'off-label' for 'ring vaccination," Lahariya said, adding that vaccination for the general population is not currently recommended.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday declared monkeypox a global public health emergency of international concern and called on nations to work closely with communities of men who have s#x with men and adopt measures that protect the health, human rights and dignity of affected communities.
More than 16,000 cases of the disease have now been reported from 75 countries and there have been five deaths so far as a result of the outbreak.
Based on the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, India has put in a surveillance system for detection and tracking of monkeypox cases in the country.
According to WHO, monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.
Monkeypox typically presents with fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to a range of medical complications.
It is usually a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting from two to four weeks.
In the 'Guidelines on Management of Monkeypox Disease' issued to states and Union territories, the Centre has stated that human-to-human transmission occurs primarily through large respiratory droplets generally requiring prolonged close contact. While it can be also transmitted through direct contact with body fluids or lesion material.