Following directions from the Union Health Ministry, Karnataka on Monday directed officials to step up monkeypox surveillance and set up a two-bed isolation ward in each of the district hospitals for cases, if reported.
So far, no confirmed cases of monkeypox have been detected in India. Although a suspected case has been reported in Ghaziabad, U.P., there is no confirmation from the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, as yet, Anil Kumar T.K., Principal Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) told The Hindu.
At a video conference with Deputy Commissioners, zilla panchayat CEOs, and District Health Officers (DHOs) on Monday, the Health Secretary instructed officials to sensitise health workers for early identification, confirmation, and treatment of monkeypox.
“Apart from setting up a two-bed isolation ward in every district hospital, we have asked the officials to train health staff on identifying symptoms. With cases of monkeypox being detected even in non-endemic countries, travel history is vital. We have given the district administrations a list of countries where the infection is being reported and have asked them to keep a watch on travellers from those countries,” he said.
“The Union Health Ministry last week released detailed guidelines on surveillance, identification, confirmation, and treatment of the viral infection in the country. We are issuing those guidelines in Kannada to the districts to ensure they are prepared to handle any outbreak,” he said.
The monkeypox virus is a slow-mutating DNA virus that is spread through large respiratory droplets and requires prolonged close contact with a patient for transmission. It can also spread through bodily fluids, material from within the skin lesions, and contaminated clothes and linens of an infected person. It can take anywhere between five to 21 days after infection for the symptoms to show up, with the person becoming infectious – having the ability to spread the virus – one to two days before the skin rashes develop till after they fall off.
Health Commissioner Randeep D., quoting the guidelines, said for a person to be suspected to have the infection, he/she must have a history of travel to the affected countries in the last 21 days, an unexplained rash, and one of the other symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, fever, headache, body ache, and profound weakness.
The virus can be confirmed by detection of unique sequences of viral DNA either by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and/or sequencing. All the clinical specimens should be transported to NIV, Pune, routed through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) network of the respective district, the Commissioner said.