As monkeypox cases continue to spread across the world, India has now reported its first death linked to the viral zoonotic infection.
A 22-year-old youth with monkeypox symptoms passed away in Kerala’s Thrissur district after travelling from a middle eastern country. The state administration has announced its intention to undertake a high-level inquiry to look into the case.
Following his death, the state health department had called a meeting in Punnayur and a contact list and route map of the deceased youth were prepared. The health department has traced and contacted people he had been in touch with after his arrival in India, to isolate and monitor them.
The Kerala youth who died in Thrissur on Saturday had tested positive for monkeypox abroad, state Health Minister Veena George said on Sunday.
The 22-year-old youth, a native of Punniyoor in Thrissur, died at a private hospital in Thrissur, days after he returned from the UAE.
The state government said that while the results of the test done in the UAE confirmed the presence of the monkeypox virus, a probe would be conducted to ascertain the cause of death.
“The youth had no symptoms of monkeypox. He had been admitted to a hospital with symptoms of encephalitis and fatigue. His relatives handed over the test result only on Saturday. A high-level probe would be held into the death as monkeypox has a very low fatality rate,’’ said the minister.
The state health department has sent his samples to the National Institute of Virology’s Alappuzha unit in Kerala.
Sources in the health department said the youth, who was employed at Ras al-Khaimah in the UAE, reached Kozhikode airport in Kerala on July 22. “He had been active after reaching home. He played football at a local ground. On July 26, he developed a fever and sought treatment at a local hospital, Later, he was shifted to another hospital, where he was put on life support. He said he had got tested in the UAE before boarding the flight to Kerala. After his death, we came to know that he was told to take rest after reaching home. Until Saturday, the family was not keen on taking up the matter with the health department or the local village panchayat,” sources said.
After the youth died Saturday afternoon, his burial was held as per the protocol for the disease. All his primary contacts have been put under observation.
India has so far had four confirmed monkeypox cases, three of them in Kerala. The patient who had the first reported case was discharge from hospital on Saturday.
Spain on Saturday reported a second death from monkeypox in as many days. These are believed to be the first confirmed monkeypox fatalities in Europe since its recent spread beyond Africa.
The monkeypox outbreak has seen more than 22,000 cases in nearly 80 countries since May. There have been 75 suspected deaths in Africa, mostly in Nigeria and Congo.