Monkeypox spread uncontrollably in India, possibility of stigma hinders testing: Experts

The monkeypox outbreak, which was first reported in May, has now spread to 78 countries with more than 18,000 cases, according to the World Health Organization’s last update released on July 28.

India has so far reported five confirmed cases – three in Kerala, and one each in Delhi and Karnataka.

However, many cases in the country may go unchecked, Rajeev Jayadevan, co-chair of the IMA’s National Task Force on COVID-19, told IANS.

Jayadevan said, “Many more cases are expected in India. Imagine the current outbreak of monkeypox is like a big tree growing beneath the surface of the earth. You cannot see it on the soil, but it is on the surface. spreading uncontrollably downstairs.”

Jayadevan said spillovers are “extremely rare” for the general population such as women and children, a vast network where the virus is spreading, “who are predominantly men who have sex with men and also have multiple partners.” “.

While the probability of a super spreader event like in Europe is comparatively “smaller in India”, the network is “more covert” here.

According to Ishwar Gilada, an infectious disease expert, the stigma attached to the name of the disease is acting as a major deterrent in people coming forward to get tested.

Gilada told IANS, “As soon as a suspected case of monkeypox reaches the doctors, they will ask ‘Have you done any monkey tricks? Where did you get this disease?

“Second, there is always a stigma associated with sexual transmission. We are seeing this with other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like HIV,” he said.

Although 98 percent of monkeypox cases have been reported in gay or bisexual men so far, it is not yet classified as an STD.

That’s because, “technically, it could be sexual contact or could happen through any physical contact like what happens during a massage”, Jayadevan said.

He explained that for monkeypox to be defined as an STD, it “has to be transmitted exclusively through the act of sex, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia”.

And if it is classified, “people will think that the virus is transmitted only through sexual activity, and may not take all other necessary contact precautions”.

However, experts have also argued that the fear of stigmatizing the disease has held back public health.

Last week, Guardian columnist Owen Jones argued that “if we’re not clear about where the risk lies, it’s completely self-defeating because that’s what we have to talk about and prioritize protecting”.

The sexual health activist said, “The majority of cases are in gay and bisexual men, and pretending it’s not like that doesn’t help any of us. I really want to focus more on gay and bisexual men.” ” Researcher Will Newtland.

Jayadevan agreed, saying: “But by not focusing enough on high-risk groups and instead vaguely claiming that ‘everyone is at risk’, we are failing to limit that process. Which is actually pushing the virus forward.”

Gilada “suggested the government to ramp up testing” as it did during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We should have our own test kits to help people get themselves tested, which will also help in curbing cases,” he told IANS.

Currently, 15 of the Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDL) of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) are conducting preliminary tests for monkeypox infection. The VDRL performs an RT-PCR test for orthopoxviruses – a family of viruses that includes monkeypox, smallpox, buffalo, and eradicated smallpox.

The samples are confirmed simultaneously through RT-PCR to specifically detect monkeypox virus at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune.

Mass vaccination is not recommended, with only smallpox doses being given to those at risk. But as during the pandemic, vaccines are limited in wealthy countries such as the US, UK and Canada, and some in Europe.

Meanwhile, ICMR has issued an open call for monkeypox vaccine development proposals from commercial businesses to protect those most at risk.

Gilada said this is an opportunity for Indian pharmaceutical companies to develop vaccines not only for Indian citizens but also for the global population.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and is not created or edited by FreshersLIVE.Publisher : IANS-media

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