Monkeypox infection pandemic. Monkeypox cell with doctor in laboratory lab confirm. Monkeypox is a rare disease that is caused by infection with virus Image Credit: Shutterstock

New Delhi: With monkeypox cases being identified across the world, an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) official on Friday said that India is prepared to tackle the disease in view of increasing infections in non-endemic countries.

In an exclusive interview with ANI, Dr Aparna Mukherjee, Scientist, ICMR, said, “India is prepared for the infections as it is rapidly spreading in non-endemic countries like Europe, USA and others. However, no cases have been reported in India so far.”

The health expert also emphasised keeping a close watch on unusual symptoms, especially those who have a travel history from the monkeypox-infected countries.

“We should observe the unusual symptoms like high fever, a lot of lymphadenopathies, large lymph nodes, body ache, rashes, etc, especially those who have travel history from infected countries,” Dr Mukherjee said.

“People who witness the symptoms can get tested, either from the fluid that comes out of those lesions or the respiratory samples and places like National Institute of Virology has the setting for testing these viruses,” she added.

She further said that people should not panic, but avoid close contact with those who test positive for monkeypox.

“People should not panic about this disease, its symptoms as it usually spreads by very close contact. There are set guidelines for it which have already been published from ICMR- NIV,” the ICMR official stated.

She said, “Kids are more susceptible to the infection. The elderly people would be vaccinated with the smallpox vaccine. After the 1980s, people did not get the smallpox vaccine that gives cross-immunity to fight against the infection. So the younger people will be more susceptible. The treatment is the same for both children and adults.”

This has been also reported in certain non-endemic countries including the USA, UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Austria, Canary Islands, Israel, and Switzerland.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), non-endemic countries are those wherein the present series of outbreaks are being reported, but it is for the first time that chains of transmission are being reported without known epidemiological links.

A positive case will be considered only if it is confirmed for the monkeypox virus (by detection of unique sequences of viral DNA either by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and/or sequencing).

Meanwhile, sources said that the Union Health Ministry will soon be releasing guidelines on monkeypox.

The guidelines will include principles of management like isolation, contact tracing, contact monitoring, preventive measures, and risk assessment.

“The guidelines will include the advisory for international travellers. They should avoid close contact with sick people, contact with dead or live, wild animals such as mammals including rodents and non-human primates (monkeys, apes), and contact with contaminated materials used by sick people should also be avoided. Consult the nearest health facility if you develop symptoms suggestive of monkeypox like fever with rash or in case you were in an area where Monkeypox has been reported or in case you came in contact with a person who has symptoms of Monkeypox,” added sources.