Monkeypox: Kerala, Maharashtra Watch Out for Virus; WHO Calls Spread ‘Highly Unusual’, African Scientists ‘Baffled’

The WHO is worried and baffled by it, so are African scientists. After being in the throes of Covid-19 for over two years now, another disease is ringing alarm bells: Monkeypox. And even India is being vigilant to the possible case of the infection, which is a cousin of the smallpox, and is now registering increasing cases in Europe.

News18 provides you latest updates on the Monkeypox situation:

  1. With cases having surged past the 90-mark in a span of ten days in 12 nations, the World Health Organization has said it is highly unusual to find patients “with no travel links to an endemic area”. The world health body has said it has expanded its surveillance in non-endemic areas and added that infections are also being reported from sexual health clinics amongst “men who have sex with men”. The number of patients are expected to increase in the coming days, the WHO had earlier said.
  2. A day after the Union government directed the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to keep a close watch on Monkeypox cases being reported from some countries, Kerala Health Minister Veena George directed the district authorities in the state to remain vigilant and create awareness about the disease. The Minister said the health department has called a special meeting and initiated the necessary precautionary measures. “Authorities have been asked to remain vigilant as the Monkeypox, which was earlier detected in Africa alone, has begun to spread to other parts of the world. Everyone should have awareness of the disease and preventive measures, ”the minister said in a statement.
  3. Maharashtra health department has also set out a directive to “keep a watch”. “We have informed all the district health authorities to stay on guard,” state surveillance officer Dr Pradip Awate said on Saturday, according to reports.
  4. In the US, New York health officials are investigating a potential case of monkeypox after a patient tested positive for a family of viruses associated with the rare illness, state health officials announced late Friday. The unidentified patient is isolating and treating the case as positive while awaiting confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New York City public health officials said earlier they were investigating two potential cases of monkeypox, a virus rarely seen outside of Africa that can cause flu-like symptoms.
  5. Scientists who have monitored numerous outbreaks of monkeypox in Africa say they are baffled by the disease’s recent spread in Europe and North America. Cases of the smallpox-related disease have previously been seen only among people with links to central and West Africa. But in the past week, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, US, Sweden and Canada all reported infections, mostly in young men who had not previously traveled to Africa. “I’m stunned by this. Every day I wake up and there are more countries infected, ”said Oyewale Tomori, a virologist who formerly headed the Nigerian Academy of Science and who sits on several WHO advisory boards. “This is not the kind of spread we’ve seen in West Africa, so there may be something new happening in the West,” he said.
  6. Israel confirmed its first case of monkeypox Saturday, joining several European and North American countries in detecting the disease endemic to parts of Africa. A spokesman for Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital told AFP that a 30-year-old man, who recently returned from western Europe with monkeypox symptoms, had tested positive for the virus. On Friday, the health ministry said the man had been exposed to a person with monkeypox abroad, noting a clinical sample had been taken for testing, as he remained in isolation at Ichilov in mild condition.
  7. Swiss health officials on Saturday reported the country’s first case of monkeypox in a person living in the canton of Bern but who was exposed while abroad. Bern’s health authority said the patient had been treated as a walk-in case and was now isolating at home. Everyone who had come into contact with him had been informed, it added in a statement. “As far as we know, the person concerned was exposed to the virus abroad,” the statement added.
  8. A top European health official warned Friday that cases of the rare monkeypox virus could accelerate in the coming months, as the virus spread across Europe. WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said that “as we enter the summer season… with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate”.
  9. WHO official David Heymann, an infectious disease specialist, told Reuters an international committee of experts met via video conference to look at what needed to be studied about the outbreak and communicated to the public, including whether there is any asymptomatic spread, who are at most risk, and the various routes of transmission. He said the meeting was convened “because of the urgency of the situation”. The committee is not the group that would suggest declaring a public health emergency of international concern, WHO’s highest form of alert, which applies to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  10. Amid Monkeypox cases being reported from some countries, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had on Friday directed NCDC and ICMR to keep a close watch on the situation. The Union Health Ministry has also directed airport and port health officers to be vigilant.

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