The sudden outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in 2020 admittedly took India by surprise. What the country witnessed in the following months was widespread panic and an increased awareness about the dangers of biomedical hazards like endemics and pandemics.
In 2022, the recent roundup of Delhi news has been filled with the talks of a new virus called Monkeypox.
What is Monkeypox? How dangerous is it? Is Monkeypox and Smallpox the same? What are the symptoms of Monkeypox? What is the rate of Monkeypox transmission? Let’s find out.
Read along to discover all you need to know about Monkeypox cases in India.
What is Monkeypox? - Severity and Symptoms
As per the bulletin of information published by the World Health Organisation, Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease which is caused due to infection from the Monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus cases have been reported in as many as 92 nations so far.
The Monkeypox virus is believed to have originated from tropical rainforest regions of Africa. All Monkeypox cases that have been detected in Delhi and India so far include international travelers entering the nation from different countries.
It typically lasts between 2-4 weeks. The earliest signs include the formation of rashes that may be located on or near the genitalia. However, there have been cases where rashes started developing in other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, and mouth. These rashes may first appear as pimples or blisters and they may be accompanied with the feeling of pain or itchiness.
Apart from rashes on the skin, some other symptoms of monkeypox include fever and frequent chills, swelling of the lymph nodes, exhaustion and fatigue, headaches and congestion of the respiratory system like coughing, blocked nose, sore throat, etc.
How to Identify Monkeypox?
Infection from the Monkeypox virus is a relatively new and lesser known disease. It is important to be well aware about how to spot and identify Monkeypox so that you can quickly isolate yourself and start the right treatment.
When compared with COVID-19, symptoms of covid usually start showing within 3 days of exposure to the virus but symptoms of Monkeypox can take up to an average of 3 weeks.
According to WHO, the incubation period of Monkeypox, which is defined as the interval between exposure to the virus/infection to onset of symptoms, can take anywhere between 5 and 21 days.
At present, a confirmed case of Monkeypox can only be identified with a PCR test of the suspected patient’s skin sample.
How is Monkeypox Transmitted?
With the rising number of Monkeypox cases in India, everyone is troubled with one and only one question - How does monkeypox spread and how contagious is the disease?
Well, the virus is typically transmitted from animals. However, humans or material surfaces that are contaminated with the virus can also become a mode of transmission. It enters the body through skin lesions, contact with bodily fluids, the respiratory tract or the mucous membrane. Close physical contact, including physical touch, can also result in the spread of Monkeypox infection.
Similar to the spread of COVID-19, experts explain that monkeypox virus can also spread through saliva and respiratory droplets but further research is required to understand what level of physical proximity is safe to prevent monkeypox infection.
Infected patients should immediately isolate themselves and maintain a safe social distance from others. Precautionary measures should be taken from the time primary symptoms like rashes on the skin appear till all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin develops.
Recovery and Cure
Limited information is currently available about Monkeypox recovery and cure. However, the World Health Organisation has published a detailed list of information to ensure that global safety standards are maintained to contain the spread of the Monkeypox virus.
According to the WHO, monkeypox virus is “less contagious than smallpox and causes less severe illness.”
There is no specific treatment regime recommended for the condition but medical authorities contend that the virus’ similarity with smallpox should also indicate a similarity in treatment methods.
Smallpox was announced to be globally eradicated in the year 1980.
Thus, antiviral drugs and the smallpox vaccine are the best mode of protection against the virus.
Did you know that the Smallpox vaccine is about 85% effective against the Monkeypox virus?
Research is underway to uncover more efficient modes of treatment for the virus.
Most Recent Updates - August 2022
India was the tenth country to report Monkeypox cases in Asia. There are nine reported cases of the Monkeypox virus in India as of now. Five of the nine cases are in Kerala. The most recent case was reported in Gujarat, which is also the state’s first suspected case of Monkeypox.
As of August 5th, the Biden government in the US has officially declared the monkeypox outbreak to be a public health emergency.
Seeing the rapid rise of the virus in the country, the Centre has issued safety advisory guidelines as well. Due to the very limited amount of information available about the hazards of the virus and its possible dangers, we must maintain the utmost level of precautions.
Check out this list of precautions to prevent the spread of Monkeypox.
Precautions to Prevent Monkeypox Spread
Some easy steps can help to prevent the spread of a potentially dangerous disease.
Make sure to wash your hands after handling animals.
Avoid situations where you’re susceptible to being bitten or scratched by animals.
Maintain a safe distance with at-risk patients experiencing symptoms like fever, headaches and rashes.
Avoid eating raw wild animal meat, uncooked or undercooked food.
All foods containing animal meat or parts must be thoroughly cooked before eating.
Apart from practising precautionary measures, stay updated with the latest news on vaccines. Some countries are reported to be in the process of developing special Monkeypox vaccines for at-risk professionals like laboratory personnel, rapid response teams and health workers.
Monkeypox has grabbed the attention of everyone in recent times and the rising Monkeypox cases in India is definitely a cause for concern. However, the Central Government as well as the ICMR are working night and day to ensure safety regulations and prevent the spread of Monkeypox.
At this stage, it is essential to raise as much awareness about staying safe from the virus and preventing the spread of unnecessary panic.
Closely monitor the spread of monkeypox cases in India and keep a close eye on the advisory of the World Health Organisation for more recent updates.
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The Author :
Dr. Sunil Khattri
Dr Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.