As monkeypox cases rise globally, Centre directs NCdC, ICMR to keep close watch
New Delhi: In view of the rise in Monkeypox cases across the world, the Centre has directed the National Centre for Disease Control (NCdC) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to keep a close watch on the outbreak.
In India, so far, there have been no cases of monkeypox.
The disease, which has symptoms like smallpox, is rare in humans. It is known to affect mostly simians (monkeys and apes).
The initial signs of the disease are fever, intense headache, swelling of the lymph nodes, back pain, muscle ache and weakness. In many patients, skin eruption is also seen.
Experts have said there have been very few cases of monkeypox outside west and south Africa in the past 50 years.
According to reports, the first case in humans was reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970.
The recent spike in the cases in Europe has become a cause of worry with governments still having to deal with Covid-19 cases and possibilities of fresh widespread infections.
The problem is real and the World Health Organisation has called an emergency meeting to discuss the outbreak of monkeypox.
Following the developments, the Union Health Ministry has asked the National Centre for Disease Control (NCdC) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to be vigilant.
If the cases continue to rise, the health authorities may start random screening of people arriving from the affected countries.
However, the good news is that the smallpox vaccination works against this disease.
Dr Kabir Sardana, professor of dermatology, at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital told TOI that the infection potential of monkeypox is markedly less and it is also a self-limiting disease. He also added that the smallpox vaccination works against this and a certain population in India might be immune to monkeypox.
But the chances of monkeypox reaching India cannot be ruled out, said Dr Pooja Khosla, a senior consultant in internal medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, according to the report.
An antiviral agent developed for the treatment of smallpox has also been licensed for the treatment of monkeypox, WHO has said, adding that a patient's condition also improves with symptomatic management.
The World Health Organisation has identified about 80 cases globally, and roughly 50 more suspected cases.
In the recent outbreak, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the US, Sweden and Canada all reported infections, mostly in young men with no previous travel history to Africa.
France, Germany, Belgium and Australia have also identified cases.