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The Editorial Analysis: Time for Vigilance

 

Monkeypox UPSC: Relevance

  • GS 2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Monkeypox in India: Context

  • Recently, India reported its first laboratory-confirmed, imported case of monkeypox virus when a 35-year-old man in Kerala tested positive.

 

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Recent Monkeypox cases around the world

  • The first case of the virus outside Africa was first reported in the U.K. on May 6, 2022.
  • Since then, the virus has spread to over 63 countries — Europe has reported more than 8,000 cases from 35 countries as of July 12, and the U.S. around 1,500 cases as of July 14.
  • The rapid increase in cases and geographical spread have primarily been due to human-to-human transmission largely during sexual contact, especially among men who have sex with men (MSM).
  • A few rave parties in Spain and Belgium have also turned out to be super-spreader events.
  • With cases crossing the 10,000-mark in non-endemic countries, and a large number of cases in Spain, the U.K., Germany and the U.S., the risk of the virus becoming established in some of these countries is becoming increasingly real.

 

What is monkeypox?

  • Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease with symptoms similar to smallpox, although with less clinical severity.
  • The infection was first discovered in 1958 following two outbreaks of a pox-like disease in colonies of monkeys kept for research, thus leading to the name ‘monkeypox’.

 

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Issues related with monkeypox

  • While the first human case was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the virus became endemic in 11 countries in Africa causing small outbreaks, no attempts were made to study it all these years.
  • Scientists have revealed that the virus appears to mutate at a much higher rate than what was assumed.
  • A recent study has found monkeypox virus DNA in samples of semen, saliva, urine, rectal swabs and faeces, and at high viral loads; the infectious and disease potential of these body fluids was not studied.
  • With the sustained spread and a few cases already detected in women, the possibility of spread into the general community cannot be totally dismissed.

 

Way forward

  • Increased testing, contact tracing and building awareness, and not stigmatising the infected people can stop the spread.

 

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