Monkeypox: Kerala steps up vigil, issues special alerts to 5 districts

Representational Image
Representational Image

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government on Friday stepped up vigil to prevent the spread of monkeypox, issuing special alerts to five districts, a day after the southern state reported the country's first case of the rare virus infection.

After chairing a high-level meeting here, state Health Minister Veena George said a special alert has been issued to five districts as people from Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Kottayam were co-passengers of the infected person in the Sharjah-Thiruvananthapuram Indigo flight that landed here on July 12.

There were 164 passengers and six cabin crew on board, the minister said and added that isolation facilities will be set up in all these districts.

The minister said 11 people who were in the seats next to him are on the high-risk contact list.

The parents of the patient, an auto driver, a taxi driver, a dermatologist of a private hospital where the infected person sought treatment first and his 11 co-passengers who were sitting next to his seats on the flight are now on the primary contact list.

"Passengers who have travelled in this flight should conduct self-monitoring and report to the health officials if they develop any symptoms of virus infection in 21 days.

As the phone numbers of many are not available, they are being traced with the help of the police", George said in a statement.

The minister said the health workers are in touch with the people who were suspected to have come in contact with the infected person and if they have fever or any other symptoms, they will be tested for COVID-19.

Tests to detect monkeypox will also be conducted if they are showing any symptoms of the disease.

Immigration clearance officers and those who handled the patient's baggage at the airport also figure in the surveillance list.

Expressing satisfaction over the patient's health condition, the minister said all districts in the state have been alerted and specialist training will be provided to health workers to deal with the monkeypox cases.

She also warned against spreading false propaganda.

Veena George
Health Minister Veena George. Photo: Screengrab/MMTV

Route map confusions

Confusion regarding the route map of the infected person has cropped up now. Initially, it was said the patient had gone to the Paripally Medical College in Kollam after he reached his house in Kollam.

Health minister Veena George herself had told reporters on July 14 that the patient's samples were sent to the Pune Institute of Virology from the Paripally Medical College. However, on Friday, Kollam health officials said that they had no idea that the patient had visited the Kollam Medical College.

According to them, they were intimated about the patient by the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College.

Problem is, there is no information about the drivers of the auto the patient had taken to reach the Kollam Medical College and the taxi he used to travel from the Kollam hospital to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College.

Previously, it was said that the patient, while in the Kollam Medical College, had expressed doubts that he could have been infected. He is said to have told the hospital authorities that a close contact of his had been diagnosed with MonkeyPox.

The question is, if this was the case, why was the patient not taken in an ambulance to the Medical College in Thiruvananthapuram.

Monkey pox
Representative image. Photo: Arif biswas/

India's first monkeypox case

India reported its first case of monkeypox on Thursday, with a Keralite who returned from the UAE testing positive for the virus, prompting the Centre to rush a high-level multi-disciplinary team to collaborate with the State Health Authorities in instituting public health measures.

The case was confirmed through the testing of the samples of the symptomatic person at the National Institute of Virology, Pune.

The country's first case of the virus was reported on a day when the Centre asked states to ensure screening and testing of all suspect cases at points of entry and in the community as part of India's preparedness against the disease.

Representative image. Poto: IANS

Monkeypox symptoms

The most common symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, and swollen lymph nodes.

This is followed or accompanied by the development of a rash which can last for two to three weeks. The rash can be found on the face, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, eyes, mouth, throat, groin, and genital and/or anal regions of the body.

The number of lesions can range from one to several thousand. Lesions begin flat, then fill with liquid before they crust over, dry up and fall off, with a fresh layer of skin forming underneath.

Symptoms typically last two to three weeks and usually go away on their own or with supportive care, such as medication for pain or fever. People remain infectious until all of the lesions have crusted over, the scabs fallen off and a new layer of skin has formed underneath.

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