Monkeypox in Kerala: All districts directed to maintain vigil, special caution for 5 districts

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala health minister Veena George here on Friday informed that all districts are directed to maintain vigil in the wake of a confirmed monkeypox case in a Kollam native who arrived from UAE.

The person arrived in Thiruvananthapuram in flight and had contact with passengers from Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, and Kottayam. As a result, authorities concerned in those districts are directed to maintain special caution, the minister said. The airports are also urged to maintain vigil.

She added that the health workers for a period will regularly collect the details of the individuals who had contact to know whether they are developing any symptoms of monkeypox. “If there are any symptoms, they will be tested for Covid-19 and monkeypox,” she said.

The minister also elaborated on the measures taken by the health department in case of any contingency. “The situation is under control and there is no need to panic,” she pointed out.

Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by a virus transmitted to humans by infected animals. Human-to-human transmission is possible but considered rare. The first symptoms of monkeypox are a fever above 38.5 degrees Celsius, headaches, muscle pain and back pain for five days. Rashes subsequently appear on the face, the palms of hands and the soles of feet, followed by lesions, spots and finally scabs. The transmission comes through close and prolonged contact between two people, principally via saliva or the pus of scabs formed during infection.

A surge in monkeypox infections has been reported since early May outside the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic. So far, confirmed cases in non-endemic areas are generally mild and no deaths have been reported. It is considered much less dangerous and contagious than smallpox, which was eradicated more than 40 years ago.

The disease has a fatality rate of between one and 10 per cent depending on the variant — there are two — in endemic countries. But medical care significantly reduces the risk. Most people recover on their own and outbreaks usually die out on their own due to the low transmissibility of the virus.