A suspected case of monkeypox, the first in India, has been reported from Kerala, the state health minister said on Thursday.
A traveller who arrived in Kerala three days ago from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was hospitalised after he displayed symptoms of monkeypox.
Samples from the traveller have been sent for testing to the National Institute of Virology in Pune, health minister Veena George said today adding that the case can be confirmed only after the results of the test are obtained.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.
Monkeypox is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus. It is usually a self-limited disease with symptoms lasting from two to four weeks, WHO said.
Monkeypox virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.
The clinical presentation of monkeypox resembles that of smallpox, a related orthopoxvirus infection which was declared eradicated worldwide in 1980. It typically presents clinically with fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to a range of medical complications.
Human monkeypox was first identified in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a 9-month-old boy in a region where smallpox had been eliminated in 1968.
Since then, most cases have been reported from rural, rainforest regions of the Congo Basin, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and human cases have increasingly been reported from across central and west Africa, according to WHO.
In 2003, the first monkeypox outbreak outside of Africa was in the United States of America and was linked to contact with infected pet prairie dogs. These pets had been housed with Gambian pouched rats and dormice that had been imported into the country from Ghana.
This outbreak led to over 70 cases of monkeypox in the U.S. Monkeypox has also been reported in travellers from Nigeria to Israel in September 2018, to the United Kingdom in September 2018, December 2019, May 2021 and May 2022, to Singapore in May 2019, and to the United States of America in July and November 2021.
In May 2022, multiple cases of monkeypox were identified in several non-endemic countries.