First suspected case of monkeypox appears in Pakistan

13-year-old boy having symptoms of disease brought to hospital in Sukkur

By: News Desk
Published: 09:42 AM, 29 May, 2022
First suspected case of monkeypox appears in Pakistan
Caption: Representational image.
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The first suspected case of monkeypox appeared at Civil Hospital in Pakistan’s Sukkur city on Sunday, reported 24NewsHD TV channel. 

As per details, the monkeypox virus was suspected in a 13-year-old boy Muhammad Ismail who is resident of Shikarpur. 

The boy was brought to the Civil Hospital Sukkur and due to fear that the boy might have caught the monkeypox virus, he was shifted to the CLF ward. 

Doctor Ghulam Rasool said that it looked like that the boy had got monkeypox virus. He said his reports had been sent for further medical analysis.

On May 22, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a high alert to all the relevant federal and provincial agencies to tighten the surveillance of the monkeypox virus in Pakistan.

The NIH said that there have been 92 confirmed cases of the monkeypox virus in different countries. The NIH declared that no case of monkeypox came to light in Pakistan yet but there was a need of tightening the surveillance of the virus on domestic routes.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Health also issued an alert in view of the diagnosis of cases of monkeypox in some developed countries of the world such as the UK, Spain and Canada.

The Ministry of National Health directed the NIH to monitor the situation, as well as all national and provincial health authorities, were instructed to remain on high alert for any suspicious cases.

Monkeypox -- a less severe disease compared to its cousin smallpox -- is endemic in 11 countries in West and Central Africa. 

It spreads by a bite or direct contact with an infected animal's blood, meat or bodily fluids, and initial symptoms include a high fever before quickly developing into a rash. 

People infected with it also get a chickenpox-like rash on their hands and face. 

No treatment exists but the symptoms usually clear up after two to four weeks, and it is not usually fatal.

Monkeypox can cause a fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions or droplets of bodily fluid from an infected person.

After outbreaks in Europe and North America, the World Health Organization on May 24 said the risk of the disease spreading widely among the general population is very low.

Transmission can be stopped outside endemic countries in Central and West Africa, the WHO said, adding that fewer than 200 confirmed and suspected cases had been recorded since early May in Australia, Europe and North America.

Monkeypox cases could be 'peak of iceberg': WHO

The World Health Organization has cautioned that some 200 monkeypox cases found in recent weeks outside of countries where the virus usually circulates could be just the beginning.

"We don't know if we are just seeing the peak of the iceberg," Sylvie Briand, WHO's epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention chief, acknowledged in a briefing to countries on the "unusual" spread of the virus.

Since Britain first reported a confirmed monkeypox case on May 7, nearly 200 cases have been reported to the UN health agency in countries far from the states where the virus is endemic.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has put the number of such cases at 219, the latest of cases were discovered in Mexico and Argentine.

Endemic in a number of west and central African nations, monkeypox cases have suddenly been detected in more than 20 other countries around the world, including the United States, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and nearly a dozen EU countries.

The Spanish health ministry said Friday that 98 cases had been confirmed there so far, while Britain currently counts 90 verified infections.

Portugal has meanwhile registered 74 confirmed cases, health authorities said Friday, adding that all the occurrences are in men, mainly aged below 40.

- No need to panic -

"We are still at the very, very beginning of this event," Briand told member state representatives attending the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

"We know that we will have more cases in the coming days," she said, but stressed there was no need to "panic".

"This is not a disease the general public should be worried about. It is not Covid or other diseases that spread fast." 

Monkeypox is related to smallpox, which killed millions around the world every year before it was eradicated in 1980.

But monkeypox is much less severe, with a fatality ratio of three to six percent. Most people recover within three to four weeks.

The initial symptoms include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and chickenpox-like rash. 

While many of the cases have been linked to men having sex with men, experts stress there is no evidence it was a sexually transmitted disease. Rather, it seems to be transmitted by close contact with an infected person who has blisters on their skin.

There is not much in the way of treatment, but some antivirals developed against smallpox exist, including one that was recently approved by the European Medicines Agency against smallpox, Briand pointed out.

Vaccines developed for smallpox have also been found to be about 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox.

However, since smallpox has not posed a threat in more than four decades, most people under the age of 45 have not received the vaccine, and the supplies of the jabs are today very limited.

Briand said experts were trying to determine what had spurred this "unusual situation", saying preliminary investigations did not seem to indicate that the virus that causes monkeypox had changed or mutated.

She voiced hope that the spread could be halted.

"We have a good window of opportunity to stop the transmission now," she said.

"If we put in place the right measures now, we probably can contain this easily."

With inputs from AFP.