Monkeypox in India: Here’s what you must do upon noticing symptoms

Four cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in India by health authorities, including one in the national capital. Notably, the first case was reported in a 35-year-old man who arrived from the Middle East. In the wake of emerging cases and the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring monkeypox as a global health emergency, it is important to pay attention to the first signs and symptoms and seek necessary treatment.

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As of July 22, there have been 16,593 confirmed infections in 68 countries that have not historically reported monkeypox, WHO noted.

Here’s a ready reckoner for you.

Monkeypox symptoms

Dr Anita Mathew, Infectious Disease Specialist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund said that the symptoms of monkeypox include swollen lymph nodes, lesions, low energy, back pain, skin rashes, fever, muscle aches, and intense headaches.

“Generally, the infected person starts getting a rash on the face which resembles the one a smallpox patient gets. The rash, which starts as a little red elevated region later gets filled with blister-like whitish fluid, before drying up and healing. As the WHO describes it as a ‘self-limited disease’ with symptoms lasting from two to four weeks, the virus is clinically less severe,” said Dr Mathew.

Dr Rajiv Dang, senior director and HOD – Internal Medicine and Medical Director, Max Hospital, Gurugram called it a “simple viral illness” which presents like any other viral flu but “associated with it are lymph node enlargement or lymphadenopathy”. “This enlargement can be seen around the neck, which a doctor can examine and detect,” he said.

How does monkeypox spread?

Monkeypox virus is transmitted from infected animals to humans via indirect or direct contact. Human-to-human transmission can occur through direct contact with infectious skin or lesions, including face-to-face, skin-to-skin, and respiratory droplets, according to WHO.

The monkeypox virus is a slow-mutating DNA virus that is spread through large respiratory droplets and requires prolonged close contact with a patient for transmission. (Representative/Wiki Commons)

WHO notes that in the current outbreak, countries and amongst the reported monkeypox cases, “transmission appears to be occurring primarily through close physical contact, including sexual contact”. “Transmission can also occur from contaminated materials such as linens, bedding, electronics, clothing, that have infectious skin particles,” it notes.

What can be done?

With regards to the treatment, no proven methods exist and symptomatic treatment is followed, Dr Mathew said.

“If any individual gets in contact with a person showing symptoms of monkeypox, one should isolate themselves for three to four weeks. Also, we need to continue following hygiene practices like frequent washing of hands, masking, and social distancing. Following correct precautionary measures and proctors will help us control the further spread of the virus,” Dr Mathew advised.

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