A day after India’s first case of Monkeypox was reported from Kerala, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Friday, 15 July, announced that 15 research and diagnostic laboratories across the country have been trained to test for the virus.
The council wrote its official Twitter handle, “To help country’s preparedness for Monkey Pox detection, 15 Virus Research & Diagnostic Laboratories across the country, which are geographically well distributed & strategically located, have already been trained in the diagnostic test by ICMR -NIV, Pune. @MoHFW_INDIA. (sic)”
These are the National Institute of Virology in Vandanam, the Institute of Advanced Virology in Thiruvananthapuram, and the Virology lab at the Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College.
To help country’s preparedness for Monkey Pox detection, 15 Virus Research & Diagnostic Laboratories across the country, which are geographically well distributed & strategically located, have already been trained in the diagnostic test by ICMR -NIV, Pune. @MoHFW_INDIA
— ICMR (@ICMRDELHI) July 15, 2022
For the lone Monkeypox case in Kerala, samples had to be sent for test to the National Institute of Virology in Pune.
Doctors on alert
The Health Departments of states sharing borders with Kerala have instructed doctors to be on high alert and flag the government if anyone comes with symptoms similar to monkeypox.
“The health department has not released any specific clinical guidelines. If any patient comes with pox symptoms, we have to look into their travel history,” said Dr Vijayalakshmi Balakrishnan, senior consultant for infectious diseases at the SIMS Hospitals in Chennai.
She added that Chennai over the past couple of months has already witnessed an outbreak of chickenpox.
“Now, people coming in with fever and rashes similar to Monkeypox and a history of travel to infected countries will be kept in isolation,” said Balakrishnan.
“We have been asked to send the collected samples to the virology lab at King’s Institute,” she added.
Vasavi Hospital’s consultant dermatologist Dr Abhiram R told South First, “People affected with Monkeypox will have symptoms like rashes usually resembling blisters.”
He added that patients might also complain of fever, tiredness, fatigue, and in some cases vomiting.
The incubation period for monkeypox is five to 42 days.
Meanwhile, Dr C Rohini, an infectious disease expert with the Government Medical College in Kozhikode in Kerala, said the rashes of Monkeypox could be confused with that of chickenpox, and doctors need to differentiate between them.
Nothing to worry
Noted microbiologist Dr Gangandeep Kang, who is also a professor at the CMC in Vellore, told South First that people need not panic.
She said, “The strains of monkeypox around the world do not have a high fatality rate.”
The doctor also said: “It is a concern for public health authorities. We need to track and contain Monkeypox cases because it can get into populations and subpopulations.