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Monkeypox scare: Union Health Ministry issues new guidelines to states

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 31, May 2022, 20:48 pm IST | UPDATED: 31, May 2022, 20:50 pm IST

Monkeypox scare: Union Health Ministry issues new guidelines to states

New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday issued specific guidelines to states and Union Territories for the prevention of the monkeypox outbreak in the country. Though no monkeypox cases have been detected in India as yet, the Health Ministry has issued detailed guidelines on the management of the disease, reported ANI.

In the 'Guidelines on Management of Monkeypox Disease' issued to states and union territories, the Health Ministry stressed on surveillance and rapid identification of new cases as the key public health measures for outbreak containment, mandating the need to reduce the risk of human-to-human transmission.

The guidelines proposed a surveillance strategy to rapidly identify cases and clusters of infections and the sources of infections as soon as possible in order to isolate cases to prevent further transmission, provide optimal clinical care, identify and manage contacts and protect frontline health workers and effective control and preventive measures based on the identified routes of transmission.

As per the Health Ministry guidelines, clinical specimens have to be sent to NIV Pune Apex Laboratory through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme network.

Health Ministry has also advised hospitals of all states to keep a close watch on symptomatic patients who travelled to countries with monkeypox infections and keep a close watch on them. The new guidelines aim at preparing India in view of the increasing reports of cases in non-endemic countries.

The guidelines explain the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures, IPC at home, patient isolation and ambulance transfer strategies, additional precautions that needs to be taken care of and duration of isolation procedures. 

Contacts should be monitored at least daily for the onset of signs or symptoms for a period of 21 days (as per case definition) from the last contact with a patient or their contaminated materials during the infectious period.

Raising awareness of risk factors under risk communication and preventive measures, the guidelines further explain in detail about raising awareness and educating people about the measures for monkeypox virus, like avoiding contact with any material of the sick person, isolation of the infected patient from others, practising good hand hygiene and using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for patients.

Monkeypox has been reported as endemic in several other central and western African countries such as Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone. However, cases have been also reported in certain non-endemic countries e.g. USA, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Austria, Israel, Switzerland etc.

More than a dozen countries mostly in Europe have reported at least one confirmed case, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The United Kingdom – where monkeypox was first detected in early May – has the largest bulk of confirmed cases, 71, followed by Spain with 51 cases and Portugal, with 37 reported cases.

Outside of Europe, Canada has 15 and the United States has nine.

Monkeypox: How severe is the infection? 

Monkeypox is a less severe disease compared to its cousin smallpox and is endemic in 11 countries in West and Central Africa. It spreads by a bite or direct contact with an infected animal’s blood, meat or bodily fluids, and initial symptoms include a high fever before quickly developing into a rash.

People infected with it also get a chickenpox-like rash on their hands and faces. No treatment exists but the symptoms usually clear up after two to four weeks, and it is not usually fatal.

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