NEW DELHI: With the increasing threat of monkeypox raising the urgent need for a fresh approach, the Centre has summoned a meeting of top health experts on Thursday. The meeting will be chaired by L Swasticharan, director of Emergency Medical Relief (EMR) — a division of the health ministry that is responsible for managing public health issues of international or national concern. Dr Pavana Murthy from the World Health Organisation (WHO) will also be present.
India has reported nine cases of monkeypox; five from Kerala and four, including a 31-year-old woman from Nigeria who tested positive on Wednesday, from Delhi. A senior official in the health ministry said of the total cases reported so far, only five have a recent history of travel abroad. “Four persons who have tested positive for monkeypox in Delhi do not have a recent history of travel abroad. This may suggest that the infection is present locally as well, especially in the high-risk groups. Therefore, it is important to update the guidelines to include measures to prevent the infection from spreading in the community,” the official said.
A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found monkeypox symptoms being seen in the current outbreak varied significantly from the symptoms reported in previous outbreaks from African regions. The study, based on a retrospective analysis of symptoms seen in 197 men who tested positive for the infection in London over the past few months, also found that only a quarter (26.5%) had known contact with someone with confirmed monkeypox infection, raising the possibility of transmission from individuals who were either asymptomatic or had few symptoms. “Understanding these findings will have major implications for contact tracing, public health advice, and ongoing infection control and isolation measures,” the BMJ said in a statement.
This prompted the National Health Services in the UK to update its guideline on monkeypox management. Classic descriptions of monkeypox infection include fever, malaise, sweats, swollen lymph nodes, and headache, followed by skin eruption 2-4 days later. According to the study, historically, the skin lesions have appeared simultaneously and progressed sequentially. Sources said India may update its guidelines to include new symptoms or trends in disease progression from timely identification of persons suffering from the illness and newer management strategies being followed globally.

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