WHO Global Indian expert issues Monkeypox warning
Dr Poonam Khetrapal, Regional Director of the World Health Organisation South-East Asia Region said that the world is witnessing an unexpected emergence of Monkeypox.
When asked about the reason behind Monkeypox gaining attention at present, Poonam Khetrapal said, "Cases of Monkeypox are being reported from multiple countries. Many of them have not seen cases of Monkeypox before. The unexpected appearance of this disease globally and in a wide geographic area indicates that the disease may have been circulating below the detection of the surveillance systems. It is possible that sustained human-to-human transmission through close contact - direct or indirect - remained undetected for a period of time."
"The risk of monkeypox globally and the WHO South-East Asia Region has assessed it as moderate considering this is the first time that Monkeypox cases and clusters are reported concurrently in many countries in widely disparate WHO geographical areas, balanced against the fact that mortality has remained low in the current outbreak."
"Genomic studies have revealed that the monkeypox virus seems to have changed over recent years. More studies are needed to understand the virus's evolution. WHO is regularly reviewing available data with its laboratory and other expert groups," she added.
Speaking on what measures India should take for the prevention and control of Monkeypox, she said, "In the current Monkeypox outbreak, transmission apparently occurred primarily through close physical contact, including sexual contact. Transmission can also occur from contaminated materials such as linens, bedding, electronics, and clothing, that have infectious skin particles. There are still many unknowns about the virus."
Speaking on the preparedness to deal with Monkeypox, Dr Poonam Khetrapal said, " The region has been on alert for Monkeypox since the reporting of an increase in cases globally. Countries have been taking measures to rapidly detect and take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of monkeypox. WHO has been supporting the member countries in the Region to assess the risk for monkeypox and strengthening their capacities to prepare and respond to the evolving multi-country outbreak. We have been sharing guidance for raising awareness; surveillance, case investigation and contact tracing; laboratory diagnostics and testing; clinical management and infection prevention and control and community engagement."
According to the Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia Region, newborns, children and people with underlying immune deficiencies may be at risk of more serious symptoms and death from monkeypox.
"Health workers are also at higher risk due to longer virus exposure. There are no sufficient data regarding monkeypox infection during pregnancy, although limited data suggest that it may lead to adverse outcomes for the foetus," she added.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) on July 24 held a high-level review meeting after India reported the fourth confirmed case of Monkeypox.