Kerala on Tuesday reported a fifth case of monkeypox in a traveller arriving home from the UAE on Wednesday last and seeking medical help at the dermatology department of the Government Medical College in Kozhikode.
Blood and body fluid samples were sent to the National Institute of Virology at Alappuzha and the microbiology laboratory at the Medical College Hospital itself. Results made available on Tuesday morning confirmed the virus affliction.
Four patients stable
Health Minister Veena George said the patient had been moved to a hospital closer home in Malappuram and isolated since he did not show any serious complications. Close contacts including parents and two friends have been put under observation.
Of the five cases identified, one has been discharged while the rest are stable, the minister said. One other case who had tested positive in the UAE itself, had succumbed at a hospital in Thrissur on Saturday.
The NIV tested the swab taken from this 22-year-old youth in Thrissur, the country’s first monkeypox victim, and attributed the viral affliction to the West African strain. The NIV would conduct a more accurate genetic test for the virus soon, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here on Monday evening.
Don’t hide symptoms, says CM
The youth had travelled home to Kerala from the UAE, just as in the three preceding cases in the State, of which the first one has been discharged from the form hospital. The flight that carried him had 165 co-passengers, not all of whom are on the primary contact list.
However, the Chief Minister urged them to keep an eye on themselves for any symptoms of fever or skin rashes. Monkeypox has a 21-day incubation period.
The Chief Minister also advised the public against hiding symptoms or illness and to consult doctors to clear any doubts. This comes on the back of the revelation that kin of the deceased youth had held back documents from the UAE which had confirmed monkeypox infection in him.
A probe will be conducted to find out if there was any lapse in monitoring for symptoms at the Kozhikode airport where he had landed.
To hold an inquiry
Health Minister Veena George said a high-level team led by the State Medical Board will hold an inquiry into the death. It will also check whether the youth had any other health issues. The Health Department will inquire into the circumstances that led to the alleged delay in seeking treatment, the Minister said.
“After all, the disease is no sin and must be promptly reported to authorities. Then only can the government provide timely treatment and prevent it from spreading,” the Minister added.
Primary contact list
None of the those on the high-risk primary contact list and kept under observation has shown any symptoms so far, according to the Health Department, which is preparing a secondary list too.
The primary contact list included four friends of the deceased who went to the airport to receive him; family members; a helper; health workers; and nine others. The 22-year-old youth from Kurinjiyur, near Chavakkad, died on Saturday morning at a private hospital in Thrissur.
The youth had arrived at the Kozhikode airport from the UAE on July 22 and was admitted to a local private hospital on July 27 after he collapsed at his house. He was later shifted to another one in Thrissur where he died.
Relatives revealed his diagnosis from the UAE only on July 30 after his condition turned critical. The hospital conveyed this to the Health Department, upon which a medical team arrived. By that time, however, his condition had worsened and he shortly succumbed to the disease.
Route map readied
The Chief Minister said a district-level health team, including the District Medical Officer and experts from the Thrissur Medical College Hospital, are closely monitoring the situation. A route map of the deceased has already been prepared. Though the youth was suffering from severe fatigue and meningitis, he did not show any visible symptoms of monkeypox, he said.
No need for panic
Revenue Minister K Rajan, who represents the district, said there is no need for panic. “We are ready to tackle any challenge. The district health department has been closely monitoring the situation and is are taking all precautionary measures.”
Collector Haritha V Kumar urged people arriving from foreign counties to seek treatment if they have any symptoms. All arrangements have been made at the Thrissur Medical College Hospital and the district hospital. Symptoms of monkeypox, a viral zoonotic disease, include swollen lymph nodes, high fever, headache, muscle ache, and exhaustion.