India’s first monkeypox death: Kerala youth had tested positive abroad; probe ordered

A youth who died in Kerala’s Thrissur on Saturday had tested positive for monkeypox in another country, state Health Minister Veena George said. This would be India’s first monkeypox death and the fourth one outside Africa.

The 22-year-old, a native of Punniyoor in Thrissur, had died at a private hospital days after he returned from the UAE. Subsequently, the health department sent his samples to the Kerala unit of the National Institute of Virology in Alappuzha.

The minister said the youth had been diagnosed with monkeypox in a test conducted abroad, but his family members handed over the test results to the hospital authorities only on Saturday. “The youth had no symptoms of monkeypox. He had been admitted to the 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,” the minister added.

Sources with the health department said the youth had reached Kerala from the UAE 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 had to be put on life support. He had claimed to have taken a test in the UAE before boarding the flight to Kerala,” the source said.

The youth died on Saturday afternoon. His burial was held as per the protocol for victims of monkeypox. All his primary contacts have been placed under observation.

India has so far confirmed four cases of monkeypox, three of them in Kerala. Saturday’s death would be the country’s first death due to the infection. On Saturday, Spain reported a second monkeypox death in that country in as many days. These are believed to be the first confirmed monkeypox fatalities in Europe since the recent spread of the infection beyond Africa.

The global 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, where a more lethal form of the infection is spreading than in the West.

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