Thursday, Jun 08, 2023

Rapid Contact-Tracing, Isolation, 21-Day Monitoring: Centre Issues Monkeypox Guidelines

Rapid Contact-Tracing, Isolation, 21-Day Monitoring: Centre Issues Monkeypox Guidelines

While no Monkeypox case has been reported in India, authorities continue to closely monitor the evolving situation.

Lesions on arm and torso of a Monkeypox patient AP photo

As Monkeypox infections soar past 300 in countries where the disease is not known to spread, the Union government on Tuesday issued guidelines on Monkeypox management to states and union territories that stress on surveillance and prevention measures, such as rapid contact-tracing, isolation, and containment of suspected Monkeypox cases. 

Even one infection has to be treated as an outbreak and a detailed investigation through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme has to be initiated, as per the 'Guidelines on Management of Monkeypox Disease'.

In the guidelines, the Union Health Ministry stressed on surveillance and rapid identification of new cases as key public health measures for outbreak containment. The guidelines mandate the need to reduce the risk of human-to-human transmission.  

The Health Ministry stated that India needs to be prepared in view of the increasing reports of cases in non-endemic countries even as no case of Monkeypox virus has been reported in the country so far.

What are the measures proposed?

The guidelines explain the infection prevention and control measures, patient isolation, ambulance transfer strategies, and additional precautions that need to be taken care of. It lists following measures:

  • Contacts should be monitored at least daily for signs and symptoms for 21 days from the last contact with a patient or their contaminated materials.
  • The guidelines proposed a surveillance strategy to rapidly identify cases, clusters of infections, and sources of infections as soon as possible in order to isolate cases to prevent further transmission. 
  • The aim will be to provide optimal clinical care, identify and manage contacts, and protect frontline health workers.
  • Then effective control and preventive measures based on the identified routes of transmission will be implemented. 

How are cases confirmed?

All the clinical specimens should be transported to the apex laboratory of ICMR-NIV Pune through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme network of the respective district or state.

There the Monkeypox infection would be confirmed by either by a PCR test or sequencing.

Focus on awareness

The guidelines state that preventive measures include avoiding contact with any material of the sick person, isolation of infected patient from others, practising good hand hygiene, and using appropriate personal protective equipment when caring for patients.

While it might sound similar to Covid-19 transmission, it's different as Monkeypox spreads with prolonged, very close contact with infected person or material, rather than through aerial route like coronavirus.

Healthline reports, "It’s usually through prolonged face-to-face contact and large respiratory droplets. This might happen if you’re within a 6-foot radius with someone who has it for three hours or longer."

Most monkeypox patients experience only fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People with more serious illness may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.

Global spread of Monkeypox

Even as Monkeypox infections have been reported in over 20 countries that are not known to have Monkeypox outbreaks, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the virus does not appear to have potential to cause a pandemic. 

Dr Rosamund Lewis, the WHO's technical lead for monkeypox, said, "The answer is we don't know, but we don't think so. At the moment, we are not concerned about a global pandemic [from Monkeypox]."

No deaths have been reported in the current outbreak.

(With PTI, AP inputs)