KOCHI, India: On Monday, India confirmed its first monkeypox death, a youth in the southern state of Kerala, only the fourth known fatality from the disease in the current outbreak.
Last week, Spain reported two monkeypox-related deaths; Brazil is the first. Death in India is also the first in Asia. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency on 23 July.
The 22-year-old Indian man died on Saturday, the Kerala Revenue Minister told reporters, adding that the government has isolated 21 people who came in contact with him.
“The person reached Kerala on July 21 but visited a hospital only on July 26 when he displayed fatigue and fever,” Minister K. Rajan said, adding that there was no reason to panic as none of the primary contacts was showing symptoms.
Kerala’s health minister, Veena George, told reporters on Sunday that the man’s family told authorities the previous day that he had tested positive in the United Arab Emirates before returning to India.
India’s federal health ministry had no comment on the death except that the government had formed a task force of senior officials to monitor monkeypox cases in the country, where local media have reported at least five infections.
The WHO said late last month that 78 countries had reported more than 18,000 cases of monkeypox, the majority in Europe.
It says the monkeypox virus causes a disease with less severe symptoms than smallpox and occurs mainly in central and west Africa. The disease is transmitted from animals to humans.
Human-to-human transmission occurs through contact with bodily fluids, wounds on the skin or internal mucous surfaces, such as those in the mouth or throat, respiratory droplets, and contaminated objects.