First case of monkeypox in India reported from Kerala

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A person who returned to Kerala from abroad and was hospitalised after showing signs of monkeypox tested positive for the disease, state Health Minister Veena George said on Thursday.

It is the first reported case of the virus in India.

Earlier in the day, the minister told reporters that his samples of the symptomatic person have been collected and sent to the National Institute of Virology for testing.

George said that the person showed symptoms of monkeypox and he was in close contact with a monkeypox patient abroad.

In the evening, she confirmed that he tested positive for the virus.

“One case of monkeypox has been confirmed. We are taking steps to ensure it does not spread to others. But he (patient) has 2-3 close contacts which include his parents.

“There are 11 primary contacts which include his parents, those who sat next to him in the plane, the taxi driver who took him from Thiruvananthapuram to Kollam, the auto driver who took him to the hospital and the cabin crew of the flight. We are informing all of them,” the minister told reporters here.

The minister also told media that there was no need for concern.

The Health department had said the same in a release issued by it in the evening before the first case of monkeypox was confirmed.

The department, however, had advised everyone to be cautious and vigilant.

Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is sending a high-level multi-disciplinary team to Kerala to collaborate with the State Health Authorities in instituting public health measures in view of the confirmed case of monkeypox in Kollam district, a Press Information Bureau release said.

The central team to Kerala will comprise experts drawn from the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. RML Hospital, New Delhi and a senior official from the Ministry of Health along with experts from the Regional Office of Health and Family Welfare, Kerala, the release said.

“The team shall work closely with the State Health Department and take stock of on-ground situations and recommend necessary public health interventions. The Government of India is taking proactive steps by monitoring the situation carefully and coordinating with states in case of any such possibility of outbreak,” it said.

According to the World Health Organisation (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.

With the eradication of smallpox in 1980 and subsequent cessation of smallpox vaccination, monkeypox has emerged as the most important orthopoxvirus for public health.

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