- Monkeypox is a viral disease which spreads from animals to humans and human to human, manifesting as a rash.
- China reported its first imported case of Monkeypox due to an infected traveller from overseas in the Chongqing municipality.
- The WHO declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern on July 23. Cases are currently down by 21 per cent globally.
Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease that is one in which the causative virus is transmitted to humans from animals. The World Health Organisation(WHO) declared the disease a public health emergency of international concern on July 23 after a rampant rise in cases globally.
Monkeypox arrives in China
China continued to be safe from the global emergency and paranoia due to Monkeypox due to the absence of local cases. However, a recent overseas traveller changed the narrative.
Mainland China has recently received its first imported case of monkeypox. The sole case of this imported monkeypox virus infection was recorded in the country’s southwestern municipality of Chongqing on Friday this month.
The infected traveller arrived in the country from overseas, making it the country’s first known monkeypox infection. The patient has symptoms of a classic rash and upon immediate testing turned out to be positive.
However, the risk of transmission of infection in citizens is low as the individual was immediately put in quarantine upon arrival in Chongqing. The local health commission said that all his known close contacts have been put under medical observation in isolation as well.
Other provinces such as Hong Kong reported the first monkeypox case detected in the city. The monkeypox virus was also recorded in Taiwan last June.
What to expect
The monkeypox virus is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected animal or person, droplets, or virus-contaminated objects which are called fomites.
Moreover, the concept of the virus also being passed from an infected mother to a baby during pregnancy via sexual transmission cannot be ruled out, according to monkeypox diagnosis and treatment guidelines confirmed by WHO in June.
Chief epidemiologist, Wu Zunyou with the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, had warned in June following the reported data of monkeypox in Taiwan that it was just a matter of time before the virus would spread in Hong Kong, Macao, and mainland China.
From January 1 through September 4, the laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox were 52,996, and 18 deaths were reported to WHO from 102 countries and regions. Although recent reports confirm that globally monkeypox cases are down by 21 per cent.
How to control the Monkeypox outbreak
Monkeypox symptoms are similar to another pox virus-caused disease called smallpox which was seen mostly in cattle farm workers. The disease, which spreads via extracting milk from an infected cow’s udder, usually presents with a classic rash on the hands of such farm workers.
The advent of smallpox paved the way for the world’s first vaccine against the disease formulated by Edward Jenner.
Jenner used scrapings obtained from rashes of an infected child and further inoculated the same in a sheep’s body to obtain antibodies against the smallpox virus. He then injected these antibodies as a vaccine for individuals and drastically brought down smallpox cases.
As a result of his efforts and consequent vigorous vaccination, smallpox was globally eradicated in 1980. Similar vaccination efforts are under trial for monkeypox.
What do Chinese experts say
In a forum, last August, the former head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, and Zhang Wenhong, head of the infectious disease department at Huashan Hospital suggested that Chinese authorities should keep high vigilance and conduct strict surveillance to control monkeypox.
The head of the Third People’s Hospital of Shenzhen, Lu Hangzhou, said that the reports of imported monkeypox cases in China are unsurprising, but he added that the whole disease poses a little threat to Chinese communities.
Lu added that the regional outbreaks can be prevented as long as the cluster infections among the high-risk communities are prevented using effective epidemic control measures and timely detection. He also suggests strict customs in quarantine inspection to prevent imported cases.