Hyderabad: A twenty-two-year-old man succumbed to monkeypox in Kerala, confirmed Kerala health minister Veena George. This is the first monkeypox death in India. The youth came from the United Arab Emirates to Kerala on 22 July after testing positive for monkeypox. His test results were not known to the private hospital treating him and the Kerala government.
The private hospital treated him for encephalitis and fatigue. The cause of his death is brain inflammation. The Kerala government is inquiring into the incident as the infectious disease was not notified.
Attack on the nervous system
Inflammation of the brain means the nervous system was attacked by the monkeypox virus. Deaths in Spain and Brazil have also been recorded as due to inflammation of the brain. Worldwide, 10 monkeypox deaths have been recorded. Dr. Mustufa Afzal, a senior infectious disease specialist, explains, "The virus attacks the skin and immune and nervous systems. In some cases, the eyes will also be impacted. The cases of brain inflammation indicate that the nervous system has been attacked by the virus. The inflammatory response of the body to fight the virus also causes high inflammation."
There are five confirmed cases in India of which three are from Kerala.
The spread of monkeypox is slow and experts say it will not spread like Covid-19.
The incubation period of monkeypox is 21 days. Signs and symptoms of the disease emerge at a later stage.
The most important point to remember is contact. Dr Afzal explains, "In this case, the contact of skin, injuries, lesions, open wounds are points of transfer of the virus."
Doctors revise their medical knowledge
As monkeypox is similar to smallpox, doctors are going back to their books to read up on the treatment and safety protocols. The present generation of the medical fraternity has read about smallpox only in medical books. They have not actually seen cases. For this reason, skin infections with high-grade fevers are a high possibility of monkeypox.
Doctors say at the hospital level, they have to be very careful with patients who report skin infections.