The World Health Organization (WHO) reported or identified 780 laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox from May 13 and as of June 2 from 27 nations spanning four WHO regions that are not endemic for the monkeypox virus.
While the virus’s West African lineage has been identified from case samples thus far, the majority of confirmed cases with travel histories indicated travel to nations in Europe and North America rather than West and Central Africa, where the monkeypox virus is prevalent.
“Monkeypox was identified way back in 1958 in Congo, and it has surprisingly been localised only as an endemic disease in western as well as central African countries. Now this is an Orthodox type of virus, which is akin to viruses like small pox and chicken pox. But now the presentation is similar to what we see in patients who have chicken pox or measles, but the surprising thing about the virus is that the majority of the patients still do not give any history of travel to areas which are known to be endemic or from where the virus has already been reported,” Dr Anil Arora, Head of Department of Gastroenterology at Sir Gangaram Hospital, told Medically Speaking in an exclusive dialogue.
Manifestations of monkeypox
Explaining the manifestations of the virus, Dr Arora explains, “Like any viral infection monkey pox virus initially will first present with symptoms like anorexia, fever, myalgia, back ache, generalised body pain followed by development of skin rash. The rash mimics that of measles and as the clinician finds it difficult to distinguish between the two, this rash mimics chicken pox more than measles. Unlike measles that affects children, this will affect males between the age group of 20 to 40 years. We have to be careful with anyone who has been to a country that has reported Covid or is a part of animal husbandry business or with anyone who reports rash after a fever and myalgia, especially the males who are between 20 to 40 years of age. If you catch hold of it early to the health authorities, it can be contained not only for you but also for those who were in your contact and more vulnerable to the infection than you.”
An advise to those travelling abroad
Dr Anil Arora mentions good hand hygiene as the key to preventing monkeypox along with appropriate universal precautions like using mask even when travelling abroad.
“It is a viral infection which typically spreads like chickenpox or smallpox by the contaminated fluid. Monkeypox presents with a postural rash and the fluid or blood oozing from that skin legion including small droplets or even the bed on which the patient or the animal has been lying can be contaminating and important source of infection as well. The most important prevention technique is a good hand hygiene. If you are handling someone who with a skin rash or fever or handling an animal, please see to it that you adequately before touching your face or having food. Along with this, keep using a mask and we will be able to adequately ward off the threat of this monkeypox infection.”
Advising those who plan to travel abroad, he adds, “if you are travelling abroad, you have to continue with the same appropriate measures especially in countries like UK and France where a lot of cases have already been reported since you may be prone to the infection. A simple universal precaution will serve more than avoiding travelling abroad if it is necessary.”
No cases in India yet
“As of now, the Government of India has taken appropriate steps that any traveller who is coming to the Indian shores from countries with cases of monkeypox, they are being screened and diagnosed for symptoms of the fever and rash and in case there is a suspicion, their samples are being sent to National institute of Immunology at Pune. There has been no documented case of monkeypox infection in India for the time being, and let us hope that if we continue to take the adequate precautions and if we are aware of our health status, we may be able to ward off the epidemic,” says Dr Arora.
Also Read: Health Ministry releases latest guidelines on Monkeypox, read more for details, signs & symptoms
As per the WHO, Monkeypox endemic countries are Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana (identified in animals only), Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone. Benin and South Sudan have documented importations in the past. Countries currently reporting cases of the West African clade are Cameroon and Nigeria.
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