Monkeypox Outbreak

INDIA recorded its first death by monkeypox when a Kerala man, recently back from the UAE, died on Saturday. He had tested positive for monkeypox.  The first case of the disease, a potentially serious viral illness, was reported from Kollam district of south Kerala on July 14.  The disease manifests itself with fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to severe medical complications. After Covid-19 pandemic, this is the second disease which is threatening to spread on a global scale. The total tally in India now has reached six with Delhi recording its second case. However, on a positive note, Delhi’s first monkeypox patient has recovered and has now been discharged. The union government has also constituted a task force to review the ongoing public health preparedness in the country. The Indian Council of Medical Research network of laboratories has also been operationalized, and arrangements have been made for monkeypox disease diagnostics.

The disease is also spreading across the world, in the US too. Three states of the US – California, New York and Illinois – have declared emergency over the disease. The US with 5811 cases has been one of the countries most affected by the disease.   More than 16,000 cases have now been reported from 75 countries. The World Health Organization has already declared monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency. The classification is the highest alert that the WHO can issue. It follows a worldwide upsurge in cases.

Monkeypox is contagious and is spread through close contact with someone who has symptoms. It is also spread by touching the infectious rash or body fluids, or the plates or cups that the patient has used. This calls for Standard Operating Procedure to be followed by people. And this won’t happen easily. It was the breach in following the SOP that triggered successive Covid-19 waves. Millions of lives were lost in the process.

Monkeypox, however, is not as contagious and fatal as Covid but it is a deadly infection nevertheless. Thankfully, there has so far been no monkeypox case in Jammu and Kashmir. But the government needs to gear up for a possible outbreak of the disease. Kashmir is a tourist area and currently we are witnessing a bumper tourist season. So, there is every likelihood that the Valley will not remain immune to the disease for long. This requires the government to be vigilant. It also needs to run an advertisement campaign to make people aware of the disease. This could go a long way to persuade people to take precautions on their own.

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