Home / News / India /  Doctors explain potential cause for resurgence of monkeypox cases. Read here

With monkeypox cases on a steady rise, health authorities have called for the need to be vigilant, even as the country's monkeypox tally of cases currently stands at 14, with Delhi accounting for nine of those. Doctors at Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said the discontinuation of the small pox vaccine might have helped in the resurgence of monkeypox cases, and explained why it should not be confused with the coronavirus.

According to an editorial written by researchers from the Institute of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at the hospital, which was published in the current edition of the Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology, suggests that authorities should launch a programme for inoculating those aged below 45 years with the small pox vaccine since it provides 85% protection.

Dr Chand Wattal, corresponding author and chairperson, Institute of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said, “the waning immunity in humans due to the discontinuation of the small pox vaccine has established the scope for the resurgence of monkeypox, demonstrated by the re-emergence of the outbreak after an absence of 30-40 years."

Additionally, the senior doctor said many of the monkeypox patients are below 40 years of age with a median age of 31 years. “Since the small pox vaccine provides 85% cross-protection, a programme for vaccination of the unvaccinated needs to be considered and a roadmap should be framed now, especially for people below 45 years of age. A high-risk person's burden needs to be considered and the possible drug, Tecovirimat, could be stockpiled," he said.

Noting that experts agree that the infection can occur through respiratory droplets from a close contact, Dr Sanghamitra Datta, author and senior consultant, Institute of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said monkeypox cannot be transmitted over distances like Covid-19.

“Small pox has no known animal reservoir and has only human-to-human transmission with a high mortality rate of 30%. Lymphadenopathy is distinct in monkeypox, which is not there in small pox. Most experts agree that though the infection can occur through respiratory droplets from a close contact, it does not seem to be transmitted over the distances like the Sars-CoV-2 virus," she added. Wattal said even though the number of cases is low currently, cases with no history of international travel to affected areas can be a warning sign.

“The health authorities need to be vigilant. The Kerala mode of containment and contact tracing is praiseworthy and the prompt diagnosis made by NIV, Pune by achieving the gold standard of having cultured and sequenced the virus in a shortest possible time is encouraging by way of capacity building and the rapid response ecosystem having come of age in India," he added.

(With inputs from PTI)

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