Monkeypox outbreak in India: Here’s what we know so far about symptoms, prevention of the infection

Monkeypox outbreak in India: Here’s what we know so far about symptoms, prevention of the infection
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  • An Indian man without travel history is infected with the monkeypox virus, in New Delhi.
  • Globally, more than 16,000 cases of the virus have been reported in the last seven months, across 68 countries.
  • The infection usually lasts between 6-13 days but can range between 5-21 days, as per WHO report.
India reported its fourth case of Monkeypox on Sunday, July 25, after a 34-year-old man was tested positive in the Paschim Vihar area of New Delhi. Unlike three other cases, all of which are from Kerala, this person had no travel history.

Among the patient’s contacts, another person is showing the symptoms of the virus but the report is not out yet. The contact person has been asked to isolate, while others are asked to keep themselves under scan.

“We have identified nearly a dozen persons who had come in contact with the patient over the last few days. One of them has symptoms and he has been advised isolation and testing. The rest are going to be under surveillance for at least two to three weeks,” said an official from the state health department.

Monkeypox a public health emergency: WHO

Globally, more than 16,000 cases of the Monkeypox virus have been reported over the last seven months in around 68 countries, out of which five people succumbed to the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO), on Saturday, declared Monkeypox a ‘public health emergency of international concern’. It also made a shocking revelation that the cases are mostly spreading among men engaged in sexual intercourse.


The average number of people infected by a single infected person is between 1.4 and 1.8 in men who have sex with men, but less than 1 in other populations, according to WHO report.

However, experts and doctors say that the infection is not an sexually transmitted disease (STD).

“We have not generated evidence to say that it is only an STD, or spreads through the sexually transmitted disease modes of sexual contact only. It is not like HIV, we can’t categorize it explicitly as HIV only, but these men are in close contact with each other. There are other modes of spread, such as unsafe and unchecked blood transfusions also,” said Dr Sanjay Rai, Professor, Community Medicine at AIIMS.

The WHO also fears that in some countries there is likely to be substantial under-reporting of case numbers, the occasional reports of infections in children and pregnant women, concerns that the infections could become endemic in the human population.

The stages of symptoms

The infection usually lasts between 6-13 days but in some cases it ranges upto 5-21 days, as per WHO report.

Symptoms in an infected person in the first five days could be fever, intense headache, lymphadenopathy (swelling of the lymph nodes), back pain, myalgia (muscle aches) and intense asthenia (lack of energy).

Lymphadenopathy is a distinctive feature of monkeypox compared to other diseases that may initially appear similar (chickenpox, measles, smallpox).

The skin eruption usually begins within one to three days of the appearance of fever. The rash tends to be more concentrated on the face and extremities rather than on the trunk. It affects the face, palms and soles of the feet.

Variants of Monkeypox

Currently, there are two strains of this virus circulating in the countries — Congo strain and the West African strain. The Congo variant is said to be more fatal than the other variant and has a mortality rate of 10%, reportedly.

The West African strain has a mortality rate of just 1%.

Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis – a virus transmitted to humans from animals – with symptoms similar to those seen in smallpox patients. However, it is clinically less severe.

A person can be infected if bitten by an infected animal or comes into contact with an infected patient. Infections can also pass if meat of a diseased animal is consumed without proper cooking.

Fastest rate of spreading

Around 3,040 cases have been registered to WHO this year in the last six months across 47 countries. The infection is seen to be spreading at a rate which is much faster than the outbreak that happened 50 years ago in 1970.

“Since then, the outbreak has continued to grow, and there are now more than 16 thousand reported cases from 75 countries and territories, and five deaths,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO.

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